Western Bulldogs’ Laitham Vandermeer looms as a hard luck story for the grand final after coach Luke Beveridge claimed he was doubtful to front Melbourne in two weeks.
Vandermeer nailed a goal in the highly impressive preliminary final victory over Port Adelaide at Adelaide Oval on Saturday night, before being forced out of the contest because of hamstring tightness.
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Beveridge noted the forward had a “scary history” with soft tissue injuries and was “doubtful at the moment”.
However, the two week-break before fronting the Demons should enable defender Alex Keath to recover from the hamstring issues which robbed him of a game against the Power.
Goalsneak Cody Weightman will also return after missing the season’s penultimate game due to concussion, giving Bulldogs selectors plenty to ponder.
“Our guys thought if he (Laitham) ran any more, it (hamstring) was just about to explode,” Beveridge said.
“He had to come out of the game because he could not run.
“That is a concern because he is important for us.
“The selection headaches are not ideal for the bad news (for the players who miss a spot), but it is ideal when trying to pick the 23.”
Beveridge agreed the battle in the engine room between two powerful midfields in the title decider will be intriguing, mentioning the influence of Christian Petracca and Clayton Oliver in the Demons’ belting of Geelong in Perth on Friday night.
Describing Demons’ captain Max Gawn’s performance as “amazing”, he said he hoped the ruckman had got his absolutely extraordinary game out of the way.
Beveridge heaped praise on the manner in which his side attacked the Power, having gone into the game as underdog, and said it was an incredible night for the club.
“The collision footy our players were prepared to play was outrageously good,” he said. “Tonight we played with a little bit of freedom.
“Maybe the pressure of the first two finals was reduced a bit. What a night to find that sense of freedom and I’m so moved by what the players did.”
Admitting he had not been a fan of the week off before the finals, Beveridge said the club would enjoy the two-week lead up to the grand final and prepare for a formidable Demons outfit.
“Melbourne was absolutely outstanding against Geelong,” he said.
“We now have time to celebrate the fact our players have provided the footy club an opportunity to win another flag.
“Two weeks is a little more time to enjoy and anticipate, and our players will feel good about that.”