Fitness deadline for Rudolph, Crane

HAMPDEN league selectors will give injured Port Fairy coach Sam Rudolph and Portland star Luke Crane until tomorrow to prove their fitness for Saturday’s country championships showdown against Ovens and Murray at Wangaratta.

Rudolph and Crane were sidelined from training on Monday night but coach Nick O’Sullivan hopes they can push for selection in tonight’s final session at Warrnambool’s Reid Oval.

Key position player Rudolph is nursing a foot complaint following the Seagulls’ loss to Camperdown on Saturday, while Crane was benched in the last quarter of the Tigers’ loss to North Warrnambool Eagles because of an ankle injury.

O’Sullivan, who intends on finalising the squad tonight, said the pair were “A grade players” who deserved extra time.

The coach is upbeat about his squad, which has been trimmed from 41.

O’Sullivan said 28 players were “in the mix” to be selected tonight for the clash against the fifth-ranked Ovens and Murray. “They are all in form,” he said.

O’Sullivan said the squad’s mix of pace, height and versatility made it ideal to take on one of country Victoria’s powerhouses.

Selectors ruled out tough Hamilton Kangaroos captain Kane Uebergang on Monday night because of concussion after he was knocked out in Saturday’s loss to South Warrnambool. They couldn’t consider North Warrnambool Eagles key defender Brendan Murfett, who tore a calf muscle on Saturday — an injury Eagles football manager Michael Harrison expects will sideline the leader for at least six weeks.

Hamilton Kangaroos midfielder Brad Thomas has also been ruled out because his wife is due to give birth.

O’Sullivan will put the players through their final paces tonight for an hour before being presented with their jumpers.

Former league president Jim Bell, the 1966 Maskell Cup winner, who was part of Hampden’s famous country championships grand final victory over Ovens and Murray at Wangaratta that year, will address the players.


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