Eade forced to swing axe at in-form Dogs - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Eade forced to swing axe at in-form Dogs

02/09/2009 05:47:12 PM Comments (0)

Western Bulldogs coach Rodney Eade admits it will be tough to axe two members of his in-form side for the opening weekend of the AFL finals.

But he will have to, with the club's No.1 ruckman Ben Hudson and dashing midfielder Ryan Griffen both set to return from injury for Saturday's qualifying final against Geelong.

Their return will place the Bulldogs virtually at full strength, with defender Tom Williams their only unavailable player.

"Hudson and Griffen will play this week so we've got to decide which two will miss, which will be two unfortunate players," Eade said on Wednesday.

"Over a long period of time you get used to doing that (making tough selection decisions) so you have to do it."

During Griffen's absence with a hamstring injury, the Dogs have posted wins over fellow finalists Brisbane, Geelong and Collingwood.

But his replacement, 19-year-old Sam Reid, looms as the likely fall guy, despite having performed solidly during that period.

Hudson was a late withdrawal against the Magpies last weekend because of hamstring tightness, replaced by Andrejs Everitt.

Everitt made the most of his chance, picking up 18 disposals, eight marks and a goal to put pressure on the Bulldogs match committee.

But with the Dogs having no passengers in the clash, he could still face the axe.

While the depth of options creates a tough call, it is a situation Eade is relishing.

He said the fact the Bulldogs had just three representatives in the 40-man All Australian preliminary squad was evidence of their even team contribution this season.

The other members of the top four - St Kilda, Geelong and Collingwood - had 21 squad members between them.

While the Bulldogs could perhaps quibble over forward Jason Akermanis and running defender Jarrod Harbrow being overlooked, Eade viewed the relative paucity of Dogs in the squad as a compliment.

"I know there's not that many, for a team that finishes third to only have three," he said.

"But I think it's more of a credit to the whole team, the way we've played, that we are an even team and with the way we perform, we don't rely on individuals.

"So that's a really pleasing aspect, actually, from a coaching point of view, that we've got the evenness amongst the group.

"We can win without (Adam) Cooney, we can win without (Robert) Murphy, we can win without (Brian) Lake, or whoever it may be, so that's certainly pleasing."

The fitness of the Dogs contrasts with a Cats side that is missing Steve Johnson, while fellow forwards Paul Chapman, Max Rooke and Travis Varcoe are also under injury clouds.

Eade said they would take on the Cats with great confidence and much more belief than when Geelong knocked them out of last year's finals series in a tight preliminary final.

"That game more than anything cemented a thought process and belief that we could compete with teams at the business end of the season," Eade said.

"From that we've improved again this year with personnel and the development of the team.

"And there's the fact we're going into a finals series with good form against three good sides over the last three weeks and nearly a full list to pick from, so the confidence is there, there's no doubt."

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