EAGLES LOOK TO WIN WITHOUT JUDD
By Mark Heenan AFL LADDER LEADER WEST COAST is relishing the challenge of playing without midfielder superstar Chris Judd against Geelong on a slippery Skilled Stadium tomorrow. Since debuting in 2002, the 2004 Brownlow medallist has missed only one match in five seasons, when he accepted a one-match penalty for striking St Kilda tagger Steven Baker in round eight last year.
Judd faces a month on the sidelines after injuring his hamstring during last week's win over Melbourne at Subiaco, but the club has played down his rare absence. "I think Judd has missed one only game through suspension last year, I think they are relishing Juddy not being here and looking forward to the contest," Eagles assistant coach Peter Sumich said. "Win, lose or draw, I suppose if we happen to lose, people will say we can't win without Judd, that might come up, but I don't expect our players to worry about that."
Sumich said Judd's absence paved the way for young on-baller
Matt Rosa to earn more match-time. Rosa, recruited from North Ballarat
at pick No.29 in the 2004 national draft, has played all nine games in
West Coast travelled with a squad of 24 players and Sumich hinted that emergency Brett Jones might play, while rookie Matthew Priddis was a strong chance to debut. Showers are forecast for Geelong tomorrow. "There might be a late change we will wait and see, the weather might have something do with that," Sumich said. "We brought over 24, so well see what happens."
Skilled Stadium remains a bogey venue for
the Eagles, who have not won at Geelong since 1999.
Meanwhile, Sumich hinted ruckman Michael Gardiner and injury-ravaged forward Andrew MacDougall are pushing hard for a return to the senior team. "Michael is travelling along well, he had a hamstring (injury) a couple weeks back, this will be his second game back for (WAFL side Claremont)," he said. "I think big men are hard to fine, they are two quality players (and) people, hopefully we'll get them back in the side soon."