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AFL News: Greene's message for GWS critics, Bombers unveil succession plan, Cripps targets revenge, Brown backflips on Lions

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20th September, 2023
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Even Greater Western Sydney captain Toby Greene is surprised his side has made it this deep into September.

Knocking out St Kilda and Port Adelaide in two defiant wins on the road, the Giants have booked themselves in for their first AFL preliminary final in four years, against Collingwood.

But for a team that started the season 3-7 under first-year coach Adam Kingsley, which included a 65-point thumping from the Magpies in round nine, the idea of reaching finals – let alone being one of the last four remaining teams – seemed farfetched.

“I probably didn’t expect to be here, I’ll be honest,” Greene said on Wednesday. “Footy is funny, it can change a lot in a few months and in a few weeks, so I’m taking the opportunity with both hands.

“Now that we’re here and what we’re doing, we deserve to be here.”

In a twist of fate, GWS will go head-to-head with the Pies on Friday night in a rematch of their last preliminary final. The Giants won by four points to reach their first decider in 2019, after losing by ten to Collingwood in their first finals outing.

Having missed out on that grand final four years ago due to a one-match suspension Greene is raring to take on Craig McRae’s side, including a potential match-up with gun Magpies defender Brayden Maynard.

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“It’d be a great battle, whoever it is – him, (Isaac) Quaynor or (Jeremy) Howe,” he said.

“I’m glad to be a part of it. Once you’re in a prelim, you got your eyes on a premiership, no doubt.

“That’s what we want to do when we’re here and they’re not easy to make.

“We know what’s at stake but we’re excited. It’s an awesome position to be, playing footy at the ‘G – hopefully two weeks in a row.”

Bombers shake up list management

Long-time Essendon recruiting boss Adrian Dodoro will leave the role in another major change to the club’s football department.

Late last month, the Bombers’ head of football Josh Mahoney joined the AFL.

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Essendon announced on Tuesday that Dodoro would “step back” from his current role after the November national draft.

Matt Rosa, who played 207 games for West Coast and Gold Coast, will then become their new talent and operations manager.

Dodoro is a life member at Essendon and has worked at the club in various roles for nearly three decades.

But he has been a polarising figure in the media and among Bombers fans, particularly given Essendon’s failure to win a final since 2004.

Essendon were in finals contention with two rounds left this season before their campaign ended in freefall. GWS belted them by 21 goals and Collingwood also trounced Essendon by 70 points.

Dodoro said in a club statement it was his decision to no longer lead Essendon’s list management.

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“I approached Craig (club chief executive Craig Vozzo) back in April to discuss the concept of transition and I feel that now is the right time to make this decision,” Dodoro said. “I sat on the panel to assist in the selection of Matt and I believe he will be an outstanding acquisition to the Club for years to come. I look forward to working with Matt moving forward.

“These roles are very taxing on individuals and their families and it just feels like that.

“After nearly three decades and with stability in key roles at the club, now is the right time for me to take a step back into a role which will provide me and my family with a better work-life balance.”

Vozzo paid tribute to Dodoro and said Essendon could look forward to his “ongoing contribution” at the club.

Mahoney’s departure and Dodoro’s change of roles follow the disastrous off-season a year ago when coach Ben Rutten was sacked. Andrew Thorburn also lasted just 24 hours as their new chief executive in a bungled recruiting process.

Vozzo eventually took over as CEO while the club unsuccessfully courted Alastair Clarkson before Brad Scott took over as coach. 

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Cripps puts target on Dunkley

If Patrick Cripps is met by Josh Dunkley at the opening bounce of Saturday’s AFL preliminary final, Carlton are confident this time their skipper will win that battle.

In Brisbane’s 26-point win over the Blues in round eight, gun midfield recruit Dunkley racked up 33 disposals and six clearances while laying 13 tackles and keeping Cripps to just 17 touches.

It prompted Lions coach Chris Fagan to label Dunkley’s performance” one of the great games I’ve ever seen”.

Carlton have no doubt Brownlow Medallist Cripps will have learned from the rare experience of having his colours lowered. “It was a good learning game for us,” midfield coach Tim Clarke said. 

“Crippa’s a student of the game so for him he’s had moments throughout his career where he’s been beaten by another player, and it’s a great opportunity for him to learn and to build his game and it makes him better prepared for next time that he plays him. 

“He can’t wait for the opportunity to come up against not only Dunkley, who had the match-up last time but all of the Brisbane midfielders. We can’t wait for the challenge that’s going to be posed to us on Saturday.”

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Patrick Cripps of the Blues looks dejected after a loss.

(Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

When asked whether he expected the Cripps-Dunkley match-up to be repeated, Clarke said “at some stage.”

“He (Dunkley) hasn’t been doing that role over the last last few weeks as consistently as he did earlier in the year but Crippa’s coming off the back of a really solid game,” he said. 

“Potentially they might go to it but they’ve got a lot of midfielders in there that we need to prepare for. But if it does happen, I know that Crippa will be ready. Crippa might come and ask for that match-up. He’s the kind of guy that loves to step into any challenge. 

“So we’re really excited whether it’s a Dunkley, whether it’s Neale, there’s (Hugh) McCluggage, there’s a lot of their midfielders that are in really good form and we can’t wait to play on them.”

Brisbane co-captain Neale has struggled to deal with hard tags but Clarke wouldn’t be drawn on whether Carlton would turn to a run-with role.

“Fages (Fagan) even mentioned himself that Brisbane’s midfield is a lot deeper than Lachie Neale and we view it that way,” Clarke said. “They’ve got some really talented players in there and Lachie Neale’s one of them. He’s a super player. 

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“We’ve got a lot of players who have watched what he does around the stoppages and no doubt there’ll be some work put into Lachie at some stage during the game.”

Brown changes tune on Lions, but wary of Voss’ Blues

A phone conversation with Michael Voss while standing on top of a ladder has Jonathan Brown wary.

But the Brisbane Lions great still thinks his old team, and the tall forwards he all-but wrote off earlier this year, have proved themselves ready to win the club’s first flag in 20 years.

The Lions play Carlton in Saturday’s preliminary final at the Gabba, Blues coach Voss the captain when Brisbane last won a premiership in 2003.

Carlton have won 11 of 12 to reach this point, historically moving from fourth-last in the 15th round to finish in fifth place.

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Former teammate Brown took a call from Voss this week while the retired full forward was painting atop a ladder.

“I’m so happy for Fly (Collingwood coach and another former Lion Craig McRae) but especially Vossy, considering the headlines in the middle of the year were ‘sack Voss’,” he said.

“It’s a great story; he believes the resilience they’ve developed on the back end of their bad run was the catalyst. It’s going to be tough to regroup and go again.

Lachie Neale celebrates a goal.

(Photo by Chris Hyde/AFL Photos/via Getty Images)

“But he’s not satisfied. He wants to go all the way and that’s important.”

Brown was critical of Brisbane and particularly forwards Joe Daniher and Eric Hipwood after a poor round-three loss to the Bulldogs.

“No, they’re not (premiership key forwards),” he told Fox Footy in April. “I’ve got serious doubts … any key forward needs to be reliable and predictable to his teammates – and I’m not seeing reliable and predictable teammates in Hipwood and Daniher at the moment.”

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The pair have responded and Brown’s tune has changed, Hipwood managing a career-best 40 goals this season and Daniher (56) booting five to star in their qualifying final win.

He said Daniher’s ability to play in the ruck and get more involved, made possible by off-season shoulder surgery, had enhanced his threat up front.

“All big forwards want to know they can handle that,” Brown said of Daniher’s composure against Port Adelaide two weeks ago.

“Since the bad loss to the Bulldogs – they copped a fair bit of criticism – but they’ve played like big blokes since.”

Brisbane, undefeated in 11 home games this season, have made three preliminary finals in the last four seasons but are yet to reach a grand final under coach Chris Fagan.

“I think so (they can win a flag); they’ve got the belief,” Brown said. “I think they had hope in previous years.”

Boak wants to extend AFL career

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Port Adelaide’s games-record holder Travis Boak has had “positive” discussions about continuing his career for an 18th AFL season.

Boak met with Power coach Ken Hinkley at Alberton on Tuesday and signalled his intent to play on.

“This is my home,” Boak said. “This club is going in a really good direction led by Kenny and this playing group.

“We didn’t finish this year the way we wanted to but this young group is taking this club forward and that is why I want to be a part of it. I still feel like I have plenty in the body and still have fire in the belly.”

Port’s campaign ended with consecutive finals losses after finishing third in the home-and-away season.

Boak was a solid contributor with 21 disposals in Saturday’s semi-final loss to Greater Western Sydney, his 348th AFL game.

Travis Boak of the Power celebrates after kicking a goal

Travis Boak (Photo by Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images)

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“It was good, a really good chat,” the 35-year-old said of his meeting with Hinkley. “Still working through some details but it was a really positive chat.

“This is a big decision so we will take as long as we need to.”

Boak’s successor as captain, Tom Jonas, retired with a calf injury preventing him from featuring in the finals. The Power have delisted four players – Riley Bonner, Trent Dumont, Brynn Teakle and Nathan Barkla.

Bonner played 93 games but the 26-year-old fell from favour this year while ruckman Teakle departs after being drafted mid-campaign last season.

After 113 games for North Melbourne, Dumont played eight times for the Power last year but couldn’t force his way into the club’s AFL ranks this season.

Three rival players – Geelong’s Esava Ratugolea, Essendon’s Brandon Zerk-Thatcher, and Jordon Sweet from the Western Bulldogs – have told their clubs they want to join Port when the official trade period begins on October 9.

© AAP

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