Beveridge admits it was a tough call on Gardner, Vandermeer
WESTERN Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge says it was a tight, emotional call to omit Ryan Gardner and Laitham Vandermeer for Saturday’s grand final as Alex Keath and Cody Weightman return from injury.
Defender Keath missed the 71point preliminary final win over Port Adelaide a fortnight ago with a hamstring problem and was replaced by Zaine Cordy, while small forward
Weightman was sidelined that night with concussion.
Vandermeer was substituted off against the Power with hamstring tightness.
Gardner made way rather than Cordy when the Bulldogs chose their team on Thursday.
Vandermeer was fine and loomed as the likely medical substitute.
“It was tight … and a little bit emotional, as you can imagine,” Beveridge said about the selection decisions at
Friday’s coaches press conference. “But Alex Keath has had a sensational year for us and Cody has really come along.”
Gardner has played nine games this season, including all three finals. Cordy has lined up in 18 matches but missed the first two finals.
Beveridge said Cordy’s experience as a 2016 premiership player – when he featured as a forward – was “not necessarily” a factor in him being picked over Gardner.
The call was influenced more by Cordy’s role in the preliminary final.
Beveridge said Keath’s injury, sustained in the thrilling semi-final win over Brisbane at the Gabba, had not been significant, but the extra week off helped him recover.
Beveridge hoped the players who missed out would visualise themselves getting opportunities in the future. “They’ve been such an important part of our journey this year,” he said.