West Coast will welcome the return of spearhead Josh Kennedy as one of two inclusions for the Eagles’ clash with the Western Bulldogs, while it’s mixed news for a trio of Dogs stars.
Sam Petrevski-Seton has exited COVID protocols and joins Kennedy, who returns from a knee injury, to face the 9th-placed Dogs at Optus Stadium on Saturday.
West Coast captain Luke Shuey will play after recovering from back soreness that saw him subbed out of the club’s 52-point loss to Greatern Western Sydney on Sunday, while defender Brady Hough has been promoted from medical substitute to take his place in the 22nd.
Josh Rotham, Hugh Dixon and Patrick Naish have been dropped and will act as emergencies alongside draftee Rhett Bazzo, with one of the four to be named as sub.
The Western Bulldogs will be without star midfielder Bailey Smith, who has been ruled out with illness, while Zaine Cordy and Luke Cleary have been omitted from the side that defeated Gold Coast by 19 points.
The Dogs return to Optus Stadium for the first time since losing the 2021 grand final to Melbourne and will re-gain the services of WA star Tim English, small forward Cody Weightman and two-time Hawthorn premiership player Taylor Duryea.
Weightman returns after three weeks out with a broken collarbone, while English and Duryea have recovered from illness to reclaim their spots in the side.
English, playing his first game since round five, will team up with Jordon Sweet for the first time against emerging Eagles ruck duo Callum Jamieson and Bailey Williams.
Roarke Smith will act as the Bulldogs’ medical sub.
Meanwhile, West Coast premiership defender Tom Cole believes the bottom-placed Eagles aren’t far from successful, after signing a contract extension tying him to the club until the end of 2025.
“I see this club being able to be successful over the next three years, we’ve had a lot of injuries and unfortunate circumstances this year,” Cole said.
“I think we still have a good enough list to compete and hopefully in the next few years I can step up into more of a leadership role and help this club get some more success.”
Cole, who will turn 25 on Saturday as his teammates face the Dogs, was placed on the inactive list after suffering a long-term ankle injury in the pre-season.
“It’s been tough,” Cole said. It’s my first time (dealing with a long-term injury), so all the emotions; angry, annoyed. You have your good days and your bad days.
Cole said it was “all systems a go” after being given the all-clear by the surgeon earlier this week and is listed as 8-10 weeks away on the club’s injury update.
West Coast v Western Bulldogs
Saturday, Optus Stadium, 5.30pm
B: A Witherden T Barrass H Edwards
HB: L Duggan J McGovern J Jones
C: J Redden T Kelly J Nelson
HF: J Cripps J Darling C West
Q: J Waterman J Kennedy I Winder
FOLL: C Jamieson L Shuey A Gaff
I / C: S Petrevski-Seton B Hough B Williams G Clark
EMG: R Bazzo J Rotham H Dixon P Naish
IN: J Kennedy S Petrevski-Seton
OUT: J Rotham P Naish H Dixon (all omitted)
B: E Richards R Gardner T O’Brien
HB: C Daniel A Keath B Dale
C: B Williams J Macrae A Scott
HF: L McNeil B Khamis T Liberatore
Q: M Bontempelli A Naughton C Weightman
FOLL: T English J Dunkley A Treloar
I / C: R West T Duryea R McComb J Sweet
EMG: J Schache D Bedendo A Jones L Cleary
IN: C Weightman T English T Duryea
OUT: L Cleary Z Cordy (both omitted) B Smith (illness) R Smith (medi-sub)