Geelong Advertiser - - AFL - LACHIE YOUNG THE IN­JURIES

GEE­LONG has de­clared key de­fender Tom Lon­er­gan a cer­tain starter for this Fri­day’s pre­lim­i­nary fi­nal against Ade­laide.

The vet­eran back­man was ini­tially thought to have missed the Cats’ 59-point win over Syd­ney due to food poi­son­ing but it is un­der­stood the soon-to-be re­tired star was suf­fer­ing from a bout of gas­tro brought on by a vi­ral in­fec­tion.

At this stage Lon­er­gan’s in­clu­sion is the only def­i­nite se­lec­tion change Gee­long will make for the clash with the Crows, and given how well they played against the taller GWS Giants out­fit in week one of the fi­nals it means key for­ward Rhys Stan­ley may make way for his re­turn.

Dy­namic for­ward Nakia Cock­a­too is knock­ing down the door and could make a late play for a re­call af­ter sev­eral weeks of hard work on the train­ing track.

The 20-year-old suf­fered his third ham­string in­jury for the year in round 19 against Carl­ton – six weeks af­ter do­ing it against West Coast in Round 13 in the open­ing quar­ter – but foot­ball man­ager Steve Hock­ing said the Cats would have no con­cerns bring­ing him into the team if he was ready to play.

“He (Cock­a­too) has got a few in front of him at the mo­ment so the per­for­mance on Fri­day night would say that he’d have to train fairly well to go past any­one,” Hock­ing said.

“They have got games un­der their belt and he has missed a few now, so it will just be up to the match com­mit­tee to make a de­ci­sion which way they go.

“He’s go­ing well, he is one of a few that will be con­sid­ered and it’s a nice prob­lem to have that there are play­ers avail­able for se­lec­tion.”

Cock­a­too played in nine of Gee­long’s first 12 matches but his more re­cent his­tory with in­juries means he would be a risk in such a huge game.

The Cats also re­vealed that scans to first-year de­fender Tom Ste­wart have cleared him of any se­ri­ous ham­string dam­age.

The for­mer South Bar­won player was rested late in the win against the Swans as a pre­cau­tion­ary mea­sure af­ter he ex­pe­ri­enced tight­ness in his ham­string through­out the match.

But Hock­ing said he was con­fi­dent Ste­wart would have no is­sues get­ting up for this Fri­day night.

“We ob­vi­ously had the game locked away so we weren’t sur­prised by the scans,” Hock­ing said

“As long as he gets through train­ing it is more than likely there won’t be a test, but we’ll know more later in the week.”


Tom Ste­wart’s in­spi­ra­tional tackle on Luke Parker on Fri­day night.

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