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Melbourne Football Club

Four changes for clash in the west

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MAY 22: Alex Neal-Bullen of the Demons in action during the 2016 AFL Round 09 match between the Melbourne Demons and the Brisbane Lions at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on May 22, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Media)
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MAY 22: Alex Neal-Bullen of the Demons in action during the 2016 AFL Round 09 match between the Melbourne Demons and the Brisbane Lions at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on May 22, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Media)
I think it’s an indication of how we’re trying to put pressure on our senior team, when it plays on the weekend
Paul Roos

MELBOURNE has made four changes for Saturday afternoon’s clash against the West Coast Eagles at Domain Stadium.

Key forward Chris Dawes, versatile tall Sam Frost, utility Alex Neal-Bullen and speedster Billy Stretch have been included in the team.

Second-year player Aaron vandenBerg is out with a hip injury.

Former co-captain Jack Grimes, tough-nut Ben Kennedy and defender Mitch White have been omitted.

Ex-Power player Ben Newton, former Giant Tomas Bugg and Kennedy are the emergencies.

Coach Paul Roos said the changes were a reflection of the pressure coming from players at Casey.

“I think it’s an indication of how we’re trying to put pressure on our senior team, when it plays on the weekend,” he said on Roos’ Views.

“If we have a performance like we have [last round], and we’ve identified the things that we’ve spoken about, we’ve been really clear on why they’re in and why they’re out.”

Roos highlighted the reasons for the omissions of the three players.

“Vanders is injured, but Mitchy White is a young kid and Grimesy got in [two weeks ago] and his first week was good, but the thing with Jack is that there isn’t the margin for error and that’s the thing that we’ve explained to him,” he said.

“We’re trying to get him to play some really good AFL footy and Ben Kennedy is getting to the stage of the year where he’s not used to. He’s played a lot of footy this year and it’s just about making sure he plays the way we want him to play and understand that.

“I think he’s going to be a terrific player for the footy club, for a long period of time.”

Roos said Neal-Bullen’s 37 disposals for Casey against Footscray Bulldogs last round – and his outstanding season for the Scorpions – forced him back in the side.

“The performance of Neal-Bullen – you can’t just keep ignoring that,” he said.

“Billy Stretch, we felt like he was in pretty good form, but he was out last week and having a week off probably helped him [and playing at] the big ground at Subiaco [will suit him].

“Dawesy [comes back in] with Vanders out and he’s been playing a bit taller, so we really need Dawesy to stand up this weekend. Frosty missed last week with illness and he’s come back and been really important in that backline.

“So it’s about as much as that pressure below and we’ve probably made more changes this year – only after one poor performance than we have in the last two years, where guys have been getting second, third and fourth opportunities.

“We’re a much better footy club because of it.”

The match starts at 2.35pm (local time).

Melbourne team: round 18

B: Josh Wagner, Tom McDonald, Neville Jetta

HB: Jayden Hunt, Oscar McDonald, Matt Jones

C: Christian Petracca, Bernie Vince, Dom Tyson

HF: Jeff Garlett, Jack Watts, James Harmes

F: Chris Dawes, Jesse Hogan, Dean Kent

Foll: Max Gawn, Nathan Jones, Jack Viney

I/C: Angus Brayshaw, Billy Stretch, Sam Frost, Alex Neal-Bullen

Emg: Ben Newton, Tomas Bugg, Ben Kennedy

In: Dawes, Frost, Neal-Bullen, Stretch

Out: Aaron vandenBerg (hip), Jack Grimes, Kennedy, Mitch White