MELBOURNE hopes to regain a quartet of premiership stars for next week’s clash with Brisbane after the Demons ran away with a round one win over the Western Bulldogs.
The Demons responded to the Dogs’ challenge in the second term on Saturday night and dominated the second half as they posted a 50-point victory to get their premiership assault underway.
The club was without Steven May (calf), Jack Viney (knee), Bayley Fritsch (foot) and Christian Salem (thyroid) for the win over the Bulldogs, but Goodwin is optimistic all will be ready to take on the Lions at the Gabba next Saturday.
DEMONS v BULLDOGS Full match coverage and stats
“I’m pretty confident all four will be available. May, Salem, Fritsch and Viney are all looking promising based on their training today,” Goodwin said post-game.
“It gives us a few [selection] headaches that’s for sure, because we’ve got a lot of guys pushing. You would have seen Judd McVee’s performance in his first game and he’s a quality player who’s getting better and better, and Bailey Laurie – both guys had impact in the game in a variety of ways and that puts pressure, but it’s a healthy pressure to have.
“We want guys playing their role right on the edge and continuing to improve throughout the year. We have a lot of depth and with the way our VFL play we’re very confident the guys we bring in will play accordingly.”
The Demons may be forced to be without star forward Kysaiah Pickett, who was reported for a high bump on Bailey Smith in the second quarter. It was the only sour point to an otherwise brilliant performance from Pickett, who kicked four goals. Goodwin said he wouldn’t temper Pickett’s combative approach.
“There’s always concerns [with the incident] but thankfully Smith played on, so we just have to go through that process and see what takes place. He’s an important player to us and we’d love to have him out there next week,” Goodwin said.
“Straight after he checked and stopped and to Bailey Smith’s credit he got up and gave ‘Koz’ a tap as well, but I won’t be talking to him about that. He plays the game on the edge, on the line and he commits his body for tackling and a whole range of things. He’s a high-quality pressure forward.”
Dogs counterpart Luke Beveridge said it was “flattening” his side let the Demons run away with the game in the final quarter, lamenting the Bulldogs’ ball use. Attention will shift to the Dogs’ use of their four tall forwards – Aaron Naughton, Jamarra Ugle-Hagan, Sam Darcy and recruit Rory Lobb – and Beveridge said it was a work in progress but that he wouldn’t “throw the baby out with the bathwater”.
“We were a bit disjointed and these are some of the teething problems with the two young blokes (Darcy and Ugle-Hagan) and we just need to work through it and work out whether we continue to persevere with that approach,” Beveridge said.
“I think the important thing is that the four of them aren’t out there all together ever, really. But still that means that if you’re picking the four big forwards and Tim in the ruck it means that a medium/small or possible utility who plays a different game is missing out.
“But it wasn’t just the talls. I didn’t think our medium/smalls had any impact at all forward of the ball. It was a game where we didn’t have any great output or results from what we did, but it was a difficult forward line to play in with the ball use. We’re a lot more capable than that.”
Returning Bulldogs defender Liam Jones’ first game back in Dogs colours since 2014 ended prematurely when he went for scans on his neck after a knock late in the second term. Beveridge said the club was hoping he had escaped any major concerns, while adding that young small forward Cody Weightman, who missed the clash with a groin injury, would likely be unavailable for at least another three weeks.