Gardiner set to miss grand final replay - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Gardiner set to miss grand final replay

By Guy Hand 26/09/2010 04:09:45 PM Comments (0)

St Kilda ruckman Michael Gardiner is almost certain to miss the AFL grand final replay, with scans in the next 48 hours expected to show a hamstring injury which could end his career.

Gardiner did not play in the second half of Saturday's drawn grand final against Collingwood after sustaining an injury which the Saints were reluctant to talk about immediately post-match.

But Saints skipper Nick Riewoldt confirmed on Sunday Gardiner had injured a hamstring and would have scans, while coach Ross Lyon conceded the veteran ruckman was virtually no chance of playing in Saturday's replay at the MCG.

That means snubbed ruckman Ben McEvoy should get a grand final reprieve after being left out of the Saints' 22 for the first clash to make way for Steven Baker.

While the Saints have no other obvious injury concerns, sore bodies and questionable performances last Saturday may mean Lyon considers more changes.

And he has publicly put the acid on midfield duo Nick Dal Santo and Jason Gram - both of whom went missing in action on the big stage - to lift for the replay.

Both Dal Santo and Gram had picked up niggling injuries the previous week in the preliminary final, but had convinced medical staff of their fitness prior to the grand final.

"They're two really elite midfielders who were down for us, so we see some upside there," Lyon told the Nine Network.

"Dal Santo and Gram - they'd want a better grand final next week, no doubt about that.

"They both had patches but certainly Dal's start was really slow and he's a proud person. He needs to improve.

"Gardiner's really unlikely to come up, and Gram really needs to get going as well."

The Saints' ruck woes are an eerie echo of their problems ahead of the 1997 grand final, in which they lost ruck duo Peter Everitt and Lazar Vidovic through injury in the build-up.

If Gardiner has torn a hamstring, he may well have played his last AFL match after the 31-year-old flagged the prospect of retirement last week.

Norm Smith Medallist Lenny Hayes was still unable to talk on Sunday after he was accidentally struck in the throat during Saturday's match, but is in no danger of missing the replay.

"He's sore, he can't talk, he got a whack in the throat in the first two minutes," Saints midfielder Leigh Montagna told the Seven Network.

"But he's a warrior, he'll be back next week and he's a chance to win the Norm Smith Medal next week.

"When you've got guys like Lenny Hayes and Brendon Goddard in your team, it makes life easier for us, especially when you've got a few blokes down."

Other Saints who may be under selection pressure include Brett Peake - anonymous on Saturday - and small forward Robert Eddy if they decide to tinker with structure.

The Saints did their usual post-match recovery session the day after their history-making draw.

But like Collingwood they were forced to cancel their family day on Sunday and postpone their best and fairest presentation scheduled for later this week.

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