No risk at country oval: Freo coach - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

No risk at country oval: Freo coach

By Warwick Stanley 11/03/2009 07:26:26 PM Comments (0)

Fremantle coach Mark Harvey says there is nothing to fear in the playing surface at Bunbury's Hands Oval, the venue for the Dockers' AFL clash with Carlton on Saturday.

Concerns have been raised about the game being played in the regional centre following the use of the oval for an interstate cricket match last month.

The ground surface was widely blamed for a knee injury to former Fremantle star Justin Longmuir in the last AFL contest played at Hands Oval in 2003.

Harvey says the Dockers will be close to full strength for their last match before the 2009 competition begins next week, and expects Carlton to field their strongest side.

He said the club was checking the playing surface at the ground on Wednesday but at this stage everyone was satisfied the teams could look forward to good conditions on Saturday.

The ground had not been used since the one-day cricket match between South Australia and Western Australia on February 8, Harvey said.

"I've got no concerns, my understanding is they've done everything they can to get the ground right down there," he said.

"We sent (football administration manager) Brent Dawkins down there today to go and have a look at the ground.

"It's all approved by the AFL and the Players Association, so you know, there's no risk.

"We in fact do our own (soil) penetrometers these days ... so we're pretty well advanced in the turf industry."

Harvey said he looked forward to playing in a country area, where people seldom see AFL stars.

"What'll happen is you'll have 10,000 people there and a lot of those people ... can't get to an AFL game," he said.

"That's the excitement of this game, I'd say particularly on the back of Carlton and Fremantle having somewhere near their best sides."

Harvey said the game, while "still a little bit of an experiment", would be the best guide to the makeup of his side's mid-field for the round one clash with the Western Bulldogs at Subiaco Oval on Sunday week.

He said Carlton, like Fremantle, were still evolving their midfield through the combination of draft choices and stars like midfielder Chris Judd.

"They're heading somewhere in the direction of one of the top teams," he said.

"It will give us a good indication ... to really find where our mid-field's at with Aaron (Sandilands) and (Matthew) Pavlich and those guys, in and around those areas."

He said Judd was "obviously the guy" to tag on Saturday.

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