The much-anticipated return bout between Western Bulldogs captain Marcus Bontempelli and GWS star Toby Greene has been delayed, with the latter to miss Friday night’s clash because of a knee injury.
The Bulldogs and Giants, both desperate for a win after underwhelming losses in round two, are squaring off for the first time since last year’s heated elimination final.
Greene copped a $7500 fine for serious misconduct in that game after making contact with Bontempelli’s face, while he was reported in two games against the same opposition in 2017.
But the small forward will play no part in the latest chapter of the burgeoning rivalry at Marvel Stadium, where last year’s No.4 draft pick Lachie Ash will debut for GWS.
“We just can’t risk it on a five-day break. We need fit and healthy players ready for a huge contest,” Giants coach Leon Cameron said of Greene.
“He’s just a bit sore in his knee.
“We’ve love to have played him.
“We expect him to be most likely right for next week, but time will tell.”
Ash and small forward Zac Langdon have replaced Greene and Isaac Cumming in the side that suffered a shock loss to North Melbourne last Sunday.
Cameron backed Langdon to help fill the immense void left by Greene’s enforced omission, also heaping praise on Ash’s attitude.
“Zac provides great pressure. He can hit the scoreboard, his speed and repeat efforts (are impressive),” he said.
“We need to raise the stakes in our pressure. Clearly it wasn’t up to standard last week.
“Lachie is a really diligent and good young kid … he just forced us to play him.
“Everything he does is really professional.”
Ash turns 19 on Sunday and described his call-up as a shock.
The teenager, who spent the COVID-19 stoppage working on his family fruit farm near Shepparton, is a rebounding defender who has been learning his craft from idol Lachie Whitfield.
“It’s been awesome, I’m locker buddies next to him. Any questions I just just bounce them off him and he’s always willing to help,” Ash said.
“He’s a superstar. His football brain is tremendous.
“When you come to the club with your idol, it’s a bit scary to start, but then you get to know them.”
Ash is thrilled to be starting his career under the bright lights of Friday night football and knows what to expect when the GWS-Bulldogs rivalry resumes.
“Both teams are coming off pretty bad losses, so I dare say it’ll be pretty hot early,” he said.