Pies punt on Rocca - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Pies punt on Rocca

By Adam Cooper 04/09/2009 06:38:36 PM Comments (0)

Collingwood have pulled the biggest selection surprise of the AFL finals so far by punting on veteran forward Anthony Rocca to play St Kilda in Sunday's qualifying final against St Kilda at the MCG.

Rocca was not among the Magpies' squad of 25 named on Thursday night, but was added when tall defender Nathan Brown experienced thigh soreness after training.

From there Rocca made the final cut and the 32-year-old is poised to play just his fourth game this season, the first since the Magpies were thrashed by the Saints by 88 points in round seven, almost four months ago.

Ankle and Achilles injuries prevented Rocca playing during the middle stages of the season but the Magpies have been impressed with his form in five games in the VFL and are confident he can get through Sunday's game.

"We've been happy with what he's shown so far, so we have no reason to think otherwise," Magpies football chief Geoff Walsh said on Friday.

Walsh said Rocca's surge into the final 22 was based on team balance given Brown was unavailable.

"Big man out, big man in," he said.

Rocca was one of four changes to the Collingwood side from last Sunday night's loss to the Western Bulldogs.

Utility Leigh Brown overcame illness, midfielder Scott Pendlebury recovered from back spasms and first-year player Steele Sidebottom won a recall, for the ninth game of his career and the first since round 18.

Dropped were reserve ruckman Cameron Wood, goalsneak Brad Dick, defender Tyson Goldsack and winger Sharrod Wellingham.

The Saints settled on two changes to the side that beat Melbourne in round 22, as ruckman Michael Gardiner and midfielder Luke Ball earned recalls.

Gardiner has overcome a hamstring niggle, while Ball returned after being dropped after the round-20 defeat by Essendon.

They replaced ruck Ben McEvoy and onballer Sean Dempster.

The Saints had no room for veteran defender Max Hudghton who, despite training with the side on Friday, was named as one of three emergencies.

Collingwood coach Mick Malthouse has spoken regularly over the past month about finding a place for Rocca, who has played 219 games but missed last year's finals because of ankle problems.

Rocca has had little impact in the three games he has played this season, and was well beaten by St Kilda's Zac Dawson in the last clash between the sides.

Dawson's strong season has limited Hudghton to a bit-part player this season.

The Saints settled on two changes to the side that beat Melbourne in round 22, as ruckman Michael Gardiner and midfielder Luke Ball earned recalls.

Gardiner has overcome a hamstring niggle, while Ball returned after being dropped after the round-20 defeat by Essendon.

They replaced ruck Ben McEvoy and onballer Sean Dempster.

The Saints had no room for veteran defender Max Hudghton who, despite training with the side on Friday, was named as one of three emergencies.

Collingwood coach Mick Malthouse has spoken regularly over the past month about finding a place for Rocca, who has played 219 games but missed last year's finals because of ankle problems.

Rocca has had little impact in the three games he has played this season, and was well beaten by St Kilda's Zac Dawson in the last clash between the sides.

Dawson's strong season has limited Hudghton to a bit-part player this season.

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