Eagles' Wirrpanda fit for AFL decider - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Eagles' Wirrpanda fit for AFL decider

By Tim Clarke 27/09/2006 07:11:57 PM Comments (0)

West Coast defender David Wirrpanda has proved his fitness and is set to be recalled for Saturday's grand final, providing a selection headache for the Eagles.

Having been given the task of participating fully in the Eagles' last training session in WA before leaving for Melbourne on Thursday, Wirrpanda did just that on Wednesday, seemingly proving his recovery from a hamstring injury was complete.

And his availability to take on Sydney has now put the pressure on coach John Worsfold as to whether to pick Wirrpanda, and if so, who should make way.

Veteran Drew Banfield appears one of the more likely casualties at the selection table on Thursday night, although young small forward Steven Armstrong, out of form midfielder Chad Fletcher or second ruckman Mark Seaby could all be in the firing line.

But if the decision has to be made, Worsfold said leaving someone out of the grand final side would not be heart-wrenching - just a reality.

"That is just what has got to happen - you can't play 23. We just get on with the job," Worsfold said.

"It is part of what you have got to do.

The axing of Banfield would probably be the hardest decision for Worsfold, given they played together in the Eagles' last flag in 1994, and Worsfold's career was ended in similar circumstances.

Worsfold was dropped for a final against the Bulldogs by then-coach Mick Malthouse in 1998 and never played again - but said Banfield was still a very good chance to make the cut.

"I would love to see him out there," Worsfold said.

Despite having had a birthday on Monday, and the prospect of a grand final on Saturday, Worsfold has all week attempted to present events as relatively normal.

And so just like every other week, the Eagles coach was giving little away about selection or tactics, except to say that 27 players were in consideration.

"In terms of our preparation, we put a lot of time in, that is just normal again," Worsfold said.

"It is like going into round one of a new season, you know you have done a lot of work in your pre-season and you don't know what the season is going to hold for you. This week is no different."

Along with Wirrpanda, Brent Staker, Mark Nicoski, Mark LeCras and Matt Rosa would be the names in the mix to be added to last weekend's 22.

One big difference to the most recent meeting of the two sides, the one-point qualifying final win by Sydney in week one of the finals, will be the presence of Daniel Kerr.

Despite taking no part in the main group's training session, and leaving the track early in front of thousands of Eagles' fans, Kerr appears set to play against the Swans for the first time this year.

And Worsfold said the influence of a man who polled 22 Brownlow votes on Monday despite being ineligible could be telling.

"It's an advantage for us to have Daniel playing, there is no doubt about that, we would much prefer to have Daniel in the side than out injured," Worsfold said.

"That is just part of us having our best squad available this week."

How that squad will line against an opponent so familiar in recent seasons Worsfold would only hint at.

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