Gray, Motlop not risked by Power - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Gray, Motlop not risked by Power

By Daniel Brettig 27/03/2010 04:44:08 PM Comments (0)

Port Adelaide demonstrated a marked change in attitude for the 2010 AFL season by declining to choose the half-fit Robbie Gray and Daniel Motlop to play North Melbourne on Sunday.

The Power and their coach Mark Williams have been criticised in the past for using a less than rigid fitness criteria to choose certain players.

This was particularly true of the gifted centreman and now Hawthorn recruit Shaun Burgoyne, who spent the latter part of his days at Alberton battling at well below full speed.

Motlop (hamstring) and Gray (back) rank with Burgoyne in terms of their importance to Port's structure, but Williams said his match committee had elected not to be too risky against a Kangaroos side guaranteed to run all day.

"We wanted to just see how they pulled up and this morning they were still a bit sore so we thought we wouldn't play them," said Williams.

"They weren't close enough to play. We want to play fit players, North have certainly got a fit side."

Williams has previously said that the talented yet fragile Gray was on course for a season far less interrupted by injuries, and he maintained that stance despite being unable to choose him for round one.

"Only time will tell, but everything except the last five minutes against Collingwood down in Mt Gambier would suggest he's back on track for us," said Williams.

"A bit of stiffness, bit of soreness, not quite sure, shall we, shan't we, it was not that dramatic that everyone knew about it.

"I certainly didn't know about it until the next week."

The trio of Scott Harding, Matt Thomas and Nick Salter will duel for the two spots opened up in Port's 22, in addition to the five players making their first league appearance in a Power jumper.

Mitch Banner, Cameron Hitchcock, Jackson Trengove and Andrew Moore will make their AFL debut, while Jay Schulz has succeeded in making the team after his move from Richmond.

The ex-Lion Harding will make it six new faces if he is chosen.

By contrast, the North Melbourne line-up is relatively settled, again expected to offer up the same sort of hard-nosed football they have become famed for despite Brad Scott's move into the coaches box to replace the Port-bound Dean Laidley.

"They'll be very competitive for a start, they beat Geelong, which is no mean effort no matter what they're playing in and so that was a fantastic effort for them," said Williams.

"I saw them play Hawthorn in Ballarat the day the hailstorm hit Melbourne and that was a bit tough for them as well.

"But they've got tall forwards, some very tricky small forwards, a very competitive on-ball unit.

"Having Dean in our box is seen as a great advantage to us, but they will change some.

"Dean knows their players pretty intimately as well so hopefully that gives us a good heads up."

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