VFL Preview – Round 19

Updated: August 20, 2015
Billie Smedts will be looking to continue his good VFL form for Geelong. Picture: ARJ GIESE
Billie Smedts will be looking to continue his good VFL form for Geelong. Picture: ARJ GIESE

Billie Smedts will be looking to continue his good VFL form for Geelong. Picture: ARJ GIESE

THE return of Daniel Menzel to AFL level next week seems increasingly certain after the star utility was rested from Geelong’s VFL side for Sunday’s clash against Sandringham.

Menzel’s absence makes it highly likely he will return to AFL level against Collingwood next Friday night, given the short turnaround from the Cats’ VFL clash with the Zebras this weekend.

In his six games since returning from a fourth knee reconstruction, Menzel has built up his game time, fitness and match awareness to be on the cusp of a return.

The 23-year-old has kicked 11 goals and averaged just under 19 disposals a game along with three marks and two tackles.

Geelong VFL coach Paul Hood said he and everyone involved with the team would be thrilled if Menzel does recommence his 21-game AFL career next round.

“We’re rapt for every player from our team that goes up and gets an AFL game. But in the case of Dan it will be a little bit more special,” Hood said.

“It’s been a long wait, we’ve seen him do a lot of work, he’s doing all that he can and that’s all the he can control. He’s gotten better every time he plays.”

Menzel’s absence and the elevation of Nathan Vardy and Jed Bews to the Cats’ AFL side will be slightly offset by the return of Josh Cowan and Jordan Cunico to take on the second-placed Zebras at Trevor Barker Oval.

VFL-listed quartet Sandy Robinson, Nick Dixon, Mitch Herbison and Dane McFarlane have also been named in the squad. But Kieran Paliouras will miss with a hamstring injury.

Hood said there were some encouraging signs from Geelong’s loss to Box Hill last round that if the Cats can reproduce this Sunday, it will give them a chance of causing an upset.

Remarkably, Geelong has won its past two games at Sandringham by more than 100 points.

“Last week we defended quite well. We put Box Hill under a lot of pressure in the midfield (and) I thought we probably won the midfield battle for the day,” Hood said.

“We just need to get better at both ends of the field. If we can do that, if our midfield can play as well as they did last week, our forwards will get some good chances and our backs won’t have to defend for quite as long.”

Meanwhile Werribee coach John Lamont describes his side’s clash with neighboring rival Williamstown on Sunday as a “mini qualifying final” for the Tigers.

Werribee (sixth) must beat the second-placed Seagulls at Williamstown – a ground they haven’t won at for more than a decade – to stay in the race for a top four finish.

The Tigers ended their 12-game losing streak against Williamstown in a pulsating contest earlier in the season.

Werribee had the bye last round which Lamont said was a great chance to mentally and physically freshen up the playing group for a big fortnight to finish the regular season. They host reigning premiers Footscray in the last round.

Lamont said the Tigers’ take a lot of confidence having won their past three games before the bye.

“They’ve shown great maturity,” Lamont said of his playing group.

“They’ve handled it really, really well. They’ve answered every challenge, they’ve trained well and we’ve kept it real in terms of let’s not try and overachieve – these are the things we’ve got to do and if we get it done we’ll be a chance to beat these teams above us on the ladder.”

Defender Jamie Macmillian has been added to North Melbourne’s extended squad for its Sunday clash against Fremantle.

Twitter: @GreenBradley

Williamstown (2nd) vs. Werribee (6th) @ Burbank Oval, Saturday 2.00pm


B Sherlock Wilson McMahon
HB Laracy Brett MacMillan
C Sodomaco Gibson Speight
HF Crichton Wood Fordham
F Harper Porter Turner
R Daw Hanson Conway
Int Hussey Ferrari * Wallace
Mihocek Currie Reid
E. Wales Holman Munro
Robinson Oshea Maishman

Sandringham (3rd) vs. Geelong (12th) @ Trevor Barker Beach Oval, Sunday 2.00pm


B Ruggles Robinson Farrelly
HB Jansen Delaney Cole*
C Gore Smedts Cunico
HF Sheringham Lucey Luxford
F Maas Tudor Bates
R Simpson Rees Cowan
Int McFarlane Bensted Atkins
Dixon Burchell Fort
Haintz Sherman Herbison

Bendigo Bank