Corey back for Cats - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Corey back for Cats

By Sam Lienert 22/09/2011 06:54:25 PM Comments (0)

Big selection boosts for Collingwood and Geelong will strengthen expectations that the season's two best-performed clubs are headed for an AFL grand final showdown.

The Cats regained two-time best and fairest Joel Corey for Saturday's AFL preliminary final against West Coast.

Collingwood welcomed back All-Australians Dale Thomas and Ben Reid for their preliminary final against Hawthorn on Friday night.

The Eagles and Hawks, both clear underdogs for their respective matches, named unchanged sides, despite each having several players under minor fitness clouds.

Corey will play his first game in six weeks after finally overcoming a nagging groin injury. The veteran midfielder proved his fitness at training on Wednesday.

It is a huge fillip for the Cats, with Corey's team-mates having nominated him as one of their three most valuable players this season, along with Joel Selwood and James Kelly, in voting for the AFL players' association's award.

Corey replaced Daniel Menzel, who ruptured an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in the qualifying final win over Hawthorn, in Geelong's only change.

Veterans Cameron Mooney and Darren Milburn were again overlooked, an indication they might have played the last games of their careers, although both were named as emergencies.

The Eagles stuck with the 22 that survived last weekend's bruising thriller against Carlton, despite Mark LeCras (ankle/knee), Eric Mackenzie (foot), Josh Kennedy (face) and Beau Waters (back) all coming out of that clash with injury concerns.

Collingwood's addition of key backman Reid, after a groin injury, and midfield star Thomas, from suspension, lifted them to virtual full strength.

Small forward Alex Fasolo and defender Tyson Goldsack were dropped.

It left the Magpies with only three team members who were not part of last year's premiership side - experienced recruits Chris Tarrant and Andrew Krakouer and All-Australian backman Leon Davis.

The Hawks dismissed health concerns over star forward Lance Franklin, who has battled a stomach bug this week and small utility Paul Puopolo, whose hamstring cramped late in last weekend's win over Sydney.

"I was a bit fearful it was an injury that was going to mean he'll miss some footy," Hawks coach Alastair Clarkson said of Puopolo.

"But he's as good as gold, it was just a cramp - a very, very slight cramp in the short little muscle he's got there.

"He's been really important for us ... we need a tough, nuggety little bloke in the forward half."

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