GORDON’S gun small forward Mick Nolan is a confirmed starter for his side’s must-win semi final against danger side Daylesford on Saturday.
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Nolan, who was carted from the ground on a stretcher after a heavy hit in the round 17 clash against Waubra, was named to play in the qualifying bout against Buninyong last weekend, but was a late withdrawal from the side.
Eagles coach Gary Learmonth told The Courier that Nolan wanted to play in the match, but had been left out because of the wet weather conditions that presented for the Saturday afternoon encounter. Essentially, the risk of another knock to the head would have been increased by the likelihood of the ball being at ground level for much of the game.
“You play all year to play finals and to miss out on that opportunity, he was disappointed and we were disappointed for him,” Learmonth said.
“He’s a dangerous player. I imagine he’ll get plenty of attention again this week.”
Nolan has been a star in attack for the Eagles during 2016, kicking 53 goals during the home and away rounds.
He has been named as the sole inclusion into the team that lost to the Bombers by 10 points.
The Eagles trailed by as much as 49 points early in that match before hitting the lead in the final term. However, the minor premiers were able to get over the line, forcing the Eagles to this cutthroat fixture against Daylesford.
“We certainly played some good footy, but at the same time, (it was) as bad as we have played all year in that second quarter,” Learmonth said of last Saturday’s performance.
Gordon has the wood over the Bulldogs this season – beating them by 33 points back in round nine – but Learmonth remains wary of a side that has strung together some good form at the back end of the year and that he believes has top-end talent as good as any club in the competition.
“They’ve won eight in a row and they beat Waubra twice in that time,” he said.
“We’ve got to play well to beat them.”
After defeating the Roos in last Saturday’s elimination final, Daylesford coach Marcus Goonan said there was unlikely to be any change to the side that will take on the Eagles this weekend.
Goonan said Gordon had “loaded up for a flag this year” and while rating the Eagles as favourites for this clash, believed his boys held no fear in season 2016.
“We definitely go in as underdogs. We’re pretty young and they’re pretty experienced and we will just see how we go,” he said.
Saturday’s game is scheduled to be played at Learmonth.
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