Matthew Suckling looms as the Western Bulldogs’ hard-luck story for the AFL grand final as they named an unchanged side.
The week’s selection intrigue will continue until the final teams are confirmed on Saturday afternoon, with Sydney naming co-captain Jarrad McVeigh and Rising Star winner Callum Mills to return from injury.
Suckling’s continued omission means the Bulldogs will have no players in their 22 on Saturday with grand final experience.
The last team without any experience in the premiership decider was St Kilda, when they lost the 1997 grand final to Adelaide.
Suckling was left out of their preliminary final side because of an Achilles problem.
But it also emerged later he did not play against the Giants because of team balance.
The two-time Hawthorn premiership player joined the Bulldogs this season under free agency and had played 17 games, including their elimination and semi-finals.
Bulldogs ruckman Jordan Roughead will need medical clearance on Friday before he is a confirmed selection.
Roughead suffered an eye injury when a ball was kicked into his face during last Saturday’s preliminary final win over the Giants.
He trained on Thursday and at this stage is expected to play.
After an injury-ravaged season, the Bulldogs have had the rare luxury of naming an unchanged side.
Suckling and Lin Jong were added to their emergencies for the grand final, joining Tom Campbell – the obvious choice to replace Roughead if he is a late withdrawal.
Jong has made a remarkable comeback after suffering a broken collarbone in the elimination-final defeat of West Coast.
He furthered his selection claims last Sunday when he was best afield in Footscray’s VFL grand final triumph.
There were also reports that Bulldogs defender Dale Morris had to do some extra training during the week.
But the ‘Dogs have been adamant Morris will play against the Swans.
With McVeigh and Mills recalled, first-year defender Harry Marsh was the unlucky omission.
The 22-year-old had played seven senior games this year, including the last four.
Fellow defender Aliir Aliir was already ruled out on Wednesday because of the knee injury he suffered last Friday night in the preliminary final win over Geelong.
Mills suffered a hamstring injury in the qualifying-final loss to the Giants and McVeigh hurt a calf as they beat Adelaide in the following week’s semi-final.
McVeigh said before last Friday night’s game that he was only a couple of days away from being fit to play.
Marsh, Harry Cunningham and Toby Nankervis are the Swans emergencies.