The 18-year-old is expected to add strong defensive pressure to the Lions forward line, with Nakia Cockatoo, Tom Fullarton and Devin Robertson losing their spots.
Meanwhile, Essendon look set to regain Nik Cox and Tom Cutler for Sunday’s clash with Fremantle at Marvel Stadium, while young key forward Harrison Jones is due to resume in the VFL this weekend after injuring his ankle in the pre-season.
Having Jones back on the field was welcomed by Essendon coach Ben Rutten. “He’s absolutely an important player for us, [a] long-term player for us, and hopefully [we can] build him up over the next few weeks,” the coach said.
Jones was one of the most accurate shots for goal in the AFL last year, kicking 20.6 and, coupled with his strong contested marking, the Bombers will be keen to reunite him with the in-form Peter Wright up forward where they’ve struggled to kick a decent score so far this year.
Livewire Jake Stringer remains unavailable due to a hamstring injury, but Rutten was adamant it wasn’t a long-term issue for the matchwinner.
“We’ll just keep building him up and make sure that we’re going to set him up for the rest of the season,” Rutten said.
The Bombers remain reluctant to put a timeframe on a potential senior return for either Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti or Michael Hurley.
However, both players continue to work towards playing AFL footy again, with McDonald-Tipungwuti returning through the VFL in recent weeks and Hurley probably a couple of weeks away, having injured his calf while regaining fitness from a long-term hip issue.
Hawthorn coach Sam Mitchell didn’t rule out Chad Wingard (calf) from taking on Geelong at the MCG on Easter Monday.
“We’re going to have a secondary scan this week, he had a lot of blood in there last week and we couldn’t actually tell exactly what was wrong,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell also said ruckman Max Lynch could be picked against the Cats, mainly by virtue of the fact that the Box Hill Hawks have the bye in the VFL.
“Max Lynch, poor guy, he had two weeks of concussion protocol then he went into the COVID protocols and so he wasn’t able to tick off all of his concussion stuff, so the rest of this week he’s still ticking off concussion,” Mitchell said.
“If he gets through the rest of training then he would be available this week. The VFL don’t have a game, so we’ve got a match committee decision assuming he gets through that.”
Mitchell was hopeful Will Day (concussion) would be available for the Hawks’ round six match against Sydney in Tasmania on Anzac Day.
Melbourne will be without Ben Brown this week after the premiership forward received a one-week ban for intentionally striking Williamstown’s Max Philpot in the VFL on the weekend.
Goodwin said Brown was “incredibly remorseful” for the crude off-the-ball hit.
“If anyone knows ‘Browny’, you know the quality of the person he is. He is probably one of the kindest, most gentle souls going around in footy,” Goodwin said.
“It was a pure accident and he knows he got it wrong.
“He’ll cop his right whack and move forward, but he’s very remorseful.”
Goodwin also said Melbourne premiership defender Harrison Petty is getting closer to playing his first senior game of the year after overcoming a calf injury and playing in the VFL recently.
While Collingwood have made five changes for the tough Lions clash, Brisbane’s Lincoln McCarthy is not surprised by the potency and flexibility of their forward structure. The former Cat is one of a handful of forward targets capable of snaring a bag of goals each week for the premiership aspirants.
McCarthy kicked a career-high five goals against North Melbourne in round three, but had a quieter game against his former side last weekend, with the Lions succumbing by 10 points.
“I guess the beauty of our forward line is [that] if we can all buy-in and play really good team footy, someone’s going to get a lick of it on a weekly basis,” McCarthy said.
“We work pretty hard as a group to make sure we’re not relying on any one individual.”
Instead of McCarthy, it was the Lions’ second tall forward Dan McStay who became the Lions’ focal point in attack against Geelong, plucking 11 marks and kicking four goals.
“He flies under the radar a lot, but internally he’s a massive weapon for us,” McCarthy said of McStay, who is a free agent at the end of the season.
“He’s got a brilliant tank, but he takes a lot of contested marks. He has the ability to jump at the ball and create a contest, often against two defenders.”
McStay is usually the third tall option in the Lions’ setup. Joe Daniher has kicked 12 goals in four games, and Eric Hipwood is set to return from knee surgery before the half-way mark of the season.
With McCarthy and Charlie Cameron also potent attacking threats, McStay is often asked to sacrifice his own game.
“He’s a brilliant teammate, he’s willing to get in there and do the dirty work for anyone, and [put in] a lot of selfless running,” McCarthy said of McStay.
“On TV, you don’t see a lot of the work he does off the ball, and Macca’s the one for us, he works so hard, he’s very selfless.”
McCarthy said that Collingwood would present a different challenge, playing a different style of game plan under new coach Craig McRae.
“They like to handball a lot and run in waves – a little bit like the Richmond style of play,” he said. “They’re going to play a really aggressive brand, we think.
“If we can match them up around the ball and do a lot of that defensive work early, we’re hoping we can get a lot of opportunities as well.”
McCarthy, a consistent performer since crossing to the Lions in 2019, is due to play his 100th game next week against the Gold Coast Suns.
After managing just 29 games in an injury-interrupted five seasons at Geelong, it’s a milestone he thought he might never get near.
“At times I didn’t think I was even going to play 50 games, so it’s nice to be on a bit of a roll at the moment,” he said. “I’m just stoked to be out there playing every week at the moment.”
“We’ve just got to make sure we’re making them count. We’ve put ourselves in a good position but we haven’t been able to get it done at the back end of the year, so hopefully I can contribute to us pushing a little bit further.”