Frustrated Giants coach Leon Cameron says he’s disappointed in ruckman Braydon Preuss, who addressed the playing group this week after his off-ball strike led to a costly suspension.
Preuss was handed a one-match ban by AFL Match Review Officer Michael Christian for striking Dockers veteran David Mundy during the Giants’ loss to Fremantle last weekend.
It means Preuss – now the club’s No. 1 ruckman – will miss his side’s Round 5 clash against an undefeated Melbourne outfit that has an in-form star ruck duo in Max Gawn and Luke Jackson.
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“It’s disappointing that Preuss is out,” Cameron told reporters on Wednesday. “We’ve spoken about that and he’s addressed the group, he’s disappointed he’s let the team down. It’s cost us this weekend, but equally you then look at opportunity for Matty Flynn, who’ll come in.”
After playing 18 games for North Melbourne and Melbourne before his trade to the Giants, Preuss’ 2021 campaign was ruined by injury. Pre-season back surgery also meant the 206cm, 113kg player wasn’t ready for the opening few games of 2022.
Preuss was finally unleashed for his club debut in Round 3 and impressed, polling four AFL Coaches’ Association votes for his performance against Gold Coast that yielded 16 disposals, seven clearances, five tackles and 34 hit-outs, of which nine went to advantage. Preuss was just as influential against the Dockers last Saturday, only for his strike to see him sidelined again.
“We’re not going to sugar-coat it, I’m disappointed. I’ve spoken to him about it,” Cameron said of Preuss’ strike.
“I’m loving what he’s starting to show as a footballer, but equally you want him out on the park more. Last year that’s no one’s fault, he had some bad injuries – that’s what happens. It’s what’s in front of us now.
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“He’s played a couple of games for us, clearly we’re getting a lift, we’re building connection with our midfield and we’re heading in the right direction, because they’re big shoes to fill when you’ve had Shane Mumford as one of those ruckmen for seven or eight years for your footy club.
“We’re disappointed he’s not out there because of his indiscretion. He needs to learn from that, he needs to understand that white line fever and staying in the match. But I’m confident he will and we need him out on the park, along with our other young ruckmen, to form a combination that can help our midfield progress in 2022.”
Cameron confirmed Flynn would get an opportunity against the Demons, but added the club’s match committee would make a call later on Wednesday whether they’d also bring in Kieren Briggs or choose to partner Flynn with Lachie Keeffe, who was the second ruck against the Suns in Round 3.
“Clearly we need to take two big men in that department to combat Gawn and Jackson. Their combination, everyone knows how good it is,” he said.
“We look at it as an opportunity for our young fellas or ‘Keeffey’ as our second ruck to take it right up to them – and what better leanings than on Saturday night at the MCG.”
Cameron confirmed star Lachie Whitfieldwould be fine to face Melbourne despite being “a bit sore” in his knee after an incident against the Dockers. He added a call would be made on All-Australian defenderNick Haynes on Wednesday afternoon after he completed training earlier, but suggested it was “more positive than negative he will play”.
The Giants’ top 2021 draft pick, gun midfielder Finn Callaghan, will also be “heavily discussed” by the club’s match committee, according to Cameron, after three impressive VFL performances.
The Giants will head into Saturday night’s clash as clear underdogs but Cameron remained hopeful his side could get an edge at the coalface.
“Every side is beatable on any day,” he said.
“They’re just very well measured, very well rounded, everyone plays their role for their team, they’re well structured, well coached and they’re in form. So we acknowledge that.
“We’d like to think though we’re similar to them in terms of contested ball, stoppages. If we can even that out and play our part in that then it can lead to a really good contest on Saturday night.
“We’re looking forward to it, we never back down from a challenge. Yep we’re 1-3 and we’d prefer to be in a different position, but footy always serves up opportunities every week.”
Cameron said he’d consider using young gun on-baller Lachie Ash in a tagging role, but added he was mindful of being “too negative” against the star-studded midfield brigade.
“We need to back our system in and we’ll look at that,” Cameron said.
“Ash has played some really good footy both on and off players. It’s great for a third-year player to learn new craft off the best, but equally then we really want him to be an offensive weapon as well.”