Hardwick swings the axe in big Gold Coast Suns shake-up

Alex Mitchell |

Skipper Jarrod Witts is a headline inclusion for Gold Coast as he returns from injury.
Skipper Jarrod Witts is a headline inclusion for Gold Coast as he returns from injury.

Six Gold Coast Suns players have paid the price for the recent loss to the Western Bulldogs, after new coach Damien Hardwick made a statement at the selection table.

Brandon Ellis, Levi Casboult, Ben Long, Connor Budarick, Ned Moyle and Alex Sexton have all been dropped for Sunday’s AFL clash with GWS after the Suns were thrashed by eight goals against the Bulldogs last time out.

Skipper Jarrod Witts is the headline inclusion after missing time with a groin injury, with Will Graham, Sam Clohesy and Ethan Read all set to make debuts.

Bailey Humphrey and Darcy Macpherson are also set to return for the Suns.

It’s a bold call from Hardwick, given his Suns started their campaign with consecutive wins before the Bulldogs loss.

It is a different story at the Giants, with 200-gamer Nick Haynes and veteran back Lachie Keeffe only included on the extended bench.

Elsewhere, Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge still can’t find a place for big man Rory Lobb, continuing with in-form youngster Sam Darcy as his back-up ruck.

Ed Richards’ inclusion at the expense of Caleb Poulter is their only change ahead of Saturday’s game against Geelong.

The Cats will be bolstered by the return of gun ruck Rhys Stanley and veteran defender Zach Tuohy.

Richmond superstar Dustin Martin returns for his side’s clash with St Kilda at Norwood Oval, slightly easing the pain of some headline outs for the Tigers.

Dustin martin
Dustin Martin will make his return from injury. (James Ross/AAP PHOTOS)

Power forward Tom Lynch and defender Noah Balta are both injured, while Liam Baker (suspended) joins them on the sidelines.

Midfield bull Jack Graham and emerging forward Jacob Koschitzke are potential inclusions, named on the extended bench.

Gun forward Max King is back for the Saints, although they’ve lost Marcus Windhager to suspension.

Brisbane coach Chris Fagan is sticking by under-fire key forward Eric Hipwood, naming him for Friday night’s clash with North Melbourne.

The Lions have included veteran defender Darcy Gardiner and James Tunstill, but axed midfielder Deven Robertson and Darcy Fort.

North coach Alastair Clarkson has recalled Hugh Greenwood, Charlie Comben and Liam Shiels in place of young duo Charlie Lazzaro and Toby Pink.

Hawthorn have been forced into three changes, with forward Luke Breust joining Mitch Lewis and Nick Watson on the injured list ahead of Sunday’s clash with Collingwood.

They’ve included Finn Maginness, who applied a hard tag on Collingwood star Nick Daicos in last season’s upset win.

Finn Maginness
Finn Maginness has been included by Hawthorn. (Morgan Hancock/AAP PHOTOS)

The Magpies are yet to axe anyone from the side that beat Brisbane last Thursday, although they would need to cull at least one player to get Steele Sidebottom back in the line-up after he was named on the extended bench.

Port Adelaide will have versatile forward Mitch Georgiades back for the first time in a year after a knee injury, with former No.1 draft pick Jason Horne-Francis also fit after a hamstring niggle.

Ollie Wines will miss Friday’s match aganst Essendon with a hamstring issue while Francis Evans has been dropped.

West Coast will give an AFL debut to No.1 rookie draft selection Loch Rawlinson in the Saturday clash with Sydney.

Jamaine Jones has been dropped from the Eagles’ line-up, while Tyler Brockman misses with a concussion.

AAP