Star power set to return for Saints

May 29, 2024 12:35 pm in by
Nick Connors in action for St Mary's during the Round 5 win over South Barwom. (Jason Borys/Pixled Sports Media)

St Mary’s could welcome back up to five first-choice players for Sunday’s blockbuster GFNL clash with St Joseph’s.

Co-coach Luke Rayner expects 2019 grand final hero Nick Connors, former Essendon AFL player Brayden Ham, the experienced Zak Sherman, and Mytleford recruit Elijah Wales are set to return after missing the hiding of Lara in Round 6.

Captain Jack Blood is also a chance to take on Joeys.

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“They all got through (training) last night,” Rayner said.

“So, we’ll see how they pull up and get through Thursday night and then make a call.”

The meeting between the competition’s two remaining unbeaten teams will occur on the same day as the Geelong Big Freeze event.

Local identities—including Joeys coach Ron Watt—will raise funds for Fight MND by going down a slide into a pool of icy water before the game.

“I think it’s going to be a cracker,” Rayner said.

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“I can’t wait to see us test ourselves against another team that’s played some real quality footy in the first half-a-dozen rounds of the year, and that’s reflected in their win-loss (record).

“At their deck, as part of a big day, which is around MND and fundraising, I’m sure if the weather’s kind, there’ll be a bumper crowd.

“It’s a great opportunity for our guys to experience a big game together.

“We’re certainly looking forward to it, and I’m pretty comfortable the players are in the same headspace.”

Rayner says that with no fresh injuries from the Lara game, a handful of players will find themselves running out in the reserve grade clash.

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“The beauty of our group is that there is not a lot of variance between 10 and 30,” he said.

“Whoever is missing out if we happen to be close to full strength is genuinely unlucky and more than capable of playing good senior footy.

“We’re going to have to make these calls week in week out if we’re relatively healthy.

“Our group knows that, and we often refer to that it’s a squad and not a team that makes it.”

St Mary’s can’t consider Kane Loftus (scaphoid), Kade Chalcraft (neck) or Keidan Rayner (pelvis) for the meeting with Joeys.

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However, Harry Ling will play his first game since Round 3 in the reserves.

He took a short break after spending the summer playing in Darwin.

X: @krockfootball