Freo consider ruck relief for Sandilands - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Freo consider ruck relief for Sandilands

Justin Chadwick 17/05/2011 03:36:21 PM Comments (0)

Fremantle coach Mark Harvey will consider bringing in ruck support for Aaron Sandilands in the coming weeks in a bid to avoid overworking the 211cm AFL tap specialist.

Sandilands has shouldered the bulk of the Dockers' ruck load this season but Harvey fears the 28-year-old could break down if he is forced to be a sole servant in role all year.

Although Kepler Bradley has been used in spurts to relieve Sandilands, the former Bomber has proven to be more effective in the forward line, where he has booted 16.6 to lead the club's goalkicking.

Several top-line ruckmen have already been struck down by serious injuries this season, with Melbourne's Mark Jamar, Hawthorn's David Hale and Collingwood's Darren Jolly all succumbing to knee complaints.

Harvey wants to avoid a similar outcome for Sandilands and said former Adelaide big man Jonathon Griffin would come into the selection mix for Saturday's clash with Port Adelaide at AAMI Stadium.

"If you think your No.1 ruckman is going to get by playing 95 per cent of the game all year, well at some stage they're going to break down. There's no question about that," Harvey said.

"That's the concerning part from a coaching point of view.

"Aaron is playing a sole role in the ruck and probably at some stage we're going to have to look at Griffin.

"Whether it's this week or not remains to be seen, but he's certainly been playing pretty well at WAFL level."

Fremantle's injury list swelled to 14 on Monday when Adam McPhee, who will miss six to eight weeks with a knee injury, and Viv Michie (foot fracture) became the latest additions to the casualty ward.

Such are the Dockers' injury woes, Harvey will consider bringing in mature-age recruit Tendai Mzungu for his AFL debut against the Power.

Mzungu starred in defence during Fremantle's pre-season campaign and was set to earn a round-one berth before injuring his knee in a practice hit-out against the Eagles.

The 25-year-old is on track to make his playing return this weekend, but Harvey hinted Mzungu was a chance to be rushed straight into the Dockers' line-up instead of going through WAFL ranks first.

"You need to get some sort of football into him before you bring them in but this guy is naturally a little bit above that because he's got exceptional endurance and terrific skills," Harvey told Perth radio station 6PR.

"So we'll have a look at him, we'll see how he goes on the training track and then we'll make up our mind."

Harvey revealed goalsneak Hayden Ballantyne would have played in Sunday's 33-point loss to the Eagles had the game been a final.

Ballantyne (hamstring) is expected to be fit to tackle the Power, while midfielder Rhys Palmer is a strong chance of earning a recall following an impressive hit-out in the WAFL last weekend.

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