Freo doubts Gardiner will play - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Freo doubts Gardiner will play

By Chris Lines 29/08/2003 07:05:44 PM Comments (0)

Fremantle expects West Coast ruckman Michael Gardiner to withdraw from the Eagles team for Saturday's western derby, providing a boost for the Dockers.

Gardiner is under a cloud with a knee problem suffered in last week's win over Melbourne, and Dockers coach Chris Connolly says he's not being fooled by West Coast's named team.

"I don't expect Michael Gardiner to play," Connolly said.

The WA derby is the second act in a dramatic last home-and-away round, following Friday night's Collingwood-Essendon clash and ahead of Sunday's South Australian showdown.

While Port Adelaide is impregnable in top spot, the order of the other seven finalists will be determined by those big games along with Brisbane's trip to take on the Western Bulldogs and Sydney's clash with Melbourne.

Gardiner's absence would be a significant boon to Freo's chances of winning and thus perhaps securing a home final in week one of September.

But Connolly was angry rather than chuffed that Gardiner had fallen victim to an injury the Dockers coach felt was brought on by the AFL's new ruck rule which put a premium on rucks jumping into each other rather than out-bodying opponents.

"Michael Gardiner should be on the stage 100 per cent fit at this time of year, and I think the rule is a disgrace, I have always said that and all we are seeing is great young ruckman not play full seasons," Connolly said.

"And if our game is going to be the best showcase of all sports, then we need ruckman like Michael Gardiner playing at 100 per cent."

Port may be the only top eight side whose position cannot change, but the Power is not prepared to flirt with form or rest players against the Crows.

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