COACH Simon Goodwin has confirmed that ruckman Jake Spencer will play against Fremantle at the MCG on Easter Saturday, replacing the injured Max Gawn.
It will be Spencer’s first AFL match since 2015 – coincidentally that was against Fremantle in round 22 at Domain Stadium.
Speaking at AAMI Park on Thursday morning, Goodwin also confirmed that leader Bernie Vince would play against the Dockers, after he ripped a toenail off his big toe last round.
But with Gawn sidelined for 12 weeks with a hamstring injury, Spencer, who impressed in the JLT Community Series, is set to step-up this round.
“We know he’s (Gawn) a quality player and an All-Australian ruckman, but Jake Spencer will come in,” Goodwin said.
“He’s worked really hard to grab this opportunity.”
“We’ll just back Jake in to play his role for the team. He’s had a fantastic summer.”
Although Goodwin acknowledged Melbourne’s injury list was deep, he said it also created several opportunities for players through adversity.
He highlighted Jack Watts’ performance in the ruck last week as one opportunity that came out of Gawn’s absence during the match.
“I thought he was terrific and competed really strongly,” he said.
Reflecting on last round’s loss to Geelong at Etihad Stadium, Goodwin reiterated that his side didn’t deserve to win, given Melbourne’s inaccuracy resulted in 32 scoring shots to 26.
“The last quarter on the weekend wasn’t what we expected,” he said.
“Goalkicking is a part of our weekly training. As I said after the game, I just thought we had a bad game.
“I’m sure on Saturday, it’ll be different.”
Goodwin said it would be another testing contest this round, taking on Fremantle, which defeated the Western Bulldogs at home last weekend.
“They (Freo) played really well. I watched them really closely. Their senior players played really well and their young players brought energy,” he said.