Reigning premier short on class

BRIAN Finch headlines a lengthy list of Launceston premiership players who will miss this weekend’s Tasmanian State League grand final rematch with Burnie.
HangZhou Night Net

Last season’s centurion goal kicker was not named in the Blues’ 26-man preliminary squad, after missing last week’s game against South Launceston with soreness.

Other big names missing from the reigning premier’s line-up include last year’s Baldock Medallist Nathan O’Donoghue, Sam O’Keefe, Gary Shipton and midfielder Sam Rundle.

Sonny Whiting, who kicked four goals in last year’s preliminary final, has been named on an extended bench, but also enters the match under an injury cloud.

The absentees don’t have Burnie coach Brent Plant breathing a sigh of relief.

Despite having virtually a full list to choose from, Plant said it would be foolish to write Launceston off.

“They have plenty of depth and I’m sure they will be confident with the team they take onto the park,” Plant said.

Plant could not confirm whether Darren Banham would take part in the game.

The star midfielder has been named in the Dockers’ preliminary squad for the last two weeks, but missed on both occasions with a calf injury.

“He (Banham) didn’t train on Monday night but did take part on Wednesday,” he said.

“We have another training run (today), so we will see how he wakes up and has recovered on Saturday before we make the call.”

One Docker certain to start is former Melbourne forward Russell Robertson.

After an impressive beginning to his five-game stint for Burnie in round one, Robertson will make a very welcome return.

“He had an excellent impact all-round the last time he played,” Plant said.

“Last week we really challenged our guys, because it’s not that often you beat Lauderdale at Lauderdale.

“Russell coming in will help our players maintain their intensity and focus.”

Meanwhile, Devonport will travel south to take on the undefeated Clarence.

Mark Lowe and Matt Damon come out of the Magpies side, while a list of five possible inclusions is headed by Kurt Heazlewood, who missed last week’s 62-point loss to North Launceston through work commitments.

This article first appeared in Hangzhou Night Net.


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