Dusty to miss key game, Tasmania expansion hits presidential road block, surgery for Ziebell, Marchbank

Richmond megastar Dustin Martin will miss Thursday night’s AFL blockbuster against a Carlton team featuring a mid-season draftee.

Martin hasn’t trained this week because of a bad bout of the ‘flu but the Tigers’ key forward Tom Lynch will return from a hamstring strain for the MCG fixture.

Richmond coach Damien Hardwick says a final call on Martin is yet to be made but concedes the Brownlow medallist is “highly unlikely” to play.

“Dustin unfortunately has got a very bad case so he will probably be sitting on the sidelines at home with a cup of soup,” Hardwick told reporters on Wednesday.

“He is not too well … he hasn’t trained all week.

“He obviously came down with it over the weekend and just hasn’t responded well.”

Hardwick said Lynch was a certain starter for his first game since suffering a hamstring injury on May 21.

The Tigers spearhead could be pitted against Carlton’s mid-season draftee Sam Durdin, who will make his debut for the Blues.

Backman Durdin played 22 games in four seasons at North Melbourne before being delisted at the end last season.

After spending the initial part of this year at SANFL club Glenelg, the Blues picked up Durdin at the mid-season draft a fortnight ago.

“What a story that is,” Carlton coach Michael Voss told reporters on Wednesday.

“Second chance … playing at Glenelg a couple of weeks ago and now he’s going to play against Richmond in front of a massive MCG crowd, so it will be a great occasion for him.

“The fact that he has been able to come in and he will have an impact pretty soon, it’s a credit to him and it’s a credit to the way the boys have been able to support him the last couple of weeks.

“The first day he got in, he sat in front of the computer for three and a half hours trying to learn what our style was.

“I just want him to go and back himself.

“He has been exposed to this level before, he knows what it’s about … he has built the craft over a long period of time in the position he plays and that goes a long, long way.

“There will be some minor adjustments to how we ask him to do that but in the end it’s down to winning your battle, and if he can win his battle that puts us in a really good position.”

Durdin will plug a hole left in the Blues’ backline by Caleb Marchbank’s latest setback.

Marchbank injured a knee when making his AFL comeback last weekend after a near three-year absence from the elite level, while Carlton’s defensive linchpin Jacob Weitering remains sidelined by a shoulder injury.

****

Tasmania’s hopes of admission into the AFL has hit another stumbling block with club presidents banding together to voice their concerns about the new team’s viability.

The AFL Commission met with club bosses before Tuesday night’s Hall of Fame dinner to discuss whether Tasmania’s bid should proceed.

According to a News Corp report, the 11 “work streams” that make up the bid have met resistance from a group of rival presidents led by Gold Coast’s Tony Cochrane, including Jeff Kennett (Hawthorn), Andrew Pridham (Sydney) and Jeff Browne (Collingwood).

At the heart of their concerns is the lack of a suitable stadium deal and the fact that Hobart is a city of just over 200,000 residents.

Pridham said the ball was in the AFL’s court over whether expansion to 19 teams should get the green light.

The state government in March announced plans to develop a multi-purpose stadium at Hobart’s waterfront, costing an estimated $750 million.

AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan described the state government’s funding pledge of $150 million, including $50 million for a high-performance centre and $10 million per year over a decade, as a “good start” last week.

Tasmania currently hosts AFL matches at Hobart’s Blundstone Arena with a capacity of 19,500, and at University of Tasmania Stadium in Launceston which can hold roughly 20,000 people.

The state government has said it will seek stadium funding from multiple levels of government, as well as via the private sector and equity raising.

Some $1.25 million is being spent progressing feasibility assessments, which are expected to go to market early in the 2022/23 financial year.

(Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Ziebell needs surgery for facial fracture

North Melbourne’s horror season has continued with news skipper Jack Ziebell will miss up to five weeks with a facial fracture.

Ziebell suffered the injury in the final quarter of last week’s 49-point loss to GWS.

The 31-year-old will undergo surgery on Wednesday.

“Jack was simply unlucky late in the game on Sunday,” North Melbourne’s general manager of performance Dan McPherson said. “We thoroughly considered all options and decided surgery was the best way forward for Jack, as it will mean a shorter timeline for his recovery.

“We are hopeful to see him back at AFL level in 4-5 weeks.”

Ziebell’s injury capped off a horror few days for the Kangaroos, who also lost young gun Jason Horne-Francis and Lachie Young to suspension.

Horne-Francis was banned for two games for striking, while Young will miss one match after being found guilty of rough conduct.

North Melbourne sit at the bottom of the ladder with a 1-12 record and pressure is building on coach David Noble. The Kangaroos have a bye this week before hosting Adelaide at Blundstone Arena on June 26. 

Marchbank out two months

Luckless Carlton defender Caleb Marchbank will miss up to eight weeks with a knee injury, while Adam Cerra has been ruled out for a fortnight.

Marchbank made his first AFL appearance in almost three years in last Friday’s 26-point win over Essendon.

Despite playing out the match, a subsequent assessment of his knee revealed a lateral meniscus tear.

Marchbank underwent surgery on Tuesday afternoon and the 25-year-old is set to miss the next six to eight weeks.

It’s a cruel blow for Marchbank, who has suffered a fractured vertebrae in his neck, a torn ACL and a persistent calf injury in recent years.

“Caleb is understandably really disappointed as we are as a footy club given how hard we all know Caleb has worked to get himself back and ready to play at the elite level,” Carlton’s head of football Brad Lloyd said.

“Caleb has had more than his fair share of bad luck which makes this news tough to hear.

“But as we all saw on Friday night he is more than capable of performing at the level and all we can do is support him through this period of his recovery.”

Cerra suffered a low-grade hamstring injury in the win over Essendon and has been ruled out for two weeks.

Jacob Weitering (AC joint), Mitch McGovern (hamstring), Zac Williams (calf) and Marc Pittonet (knee) are other key players on the injury list.

The Blues (9-3) sit in fourth spot and take on Richmond at the MCG on Thursday night.

With AAP