Intrigue continues to surround the Western Bulldogs’ AFL grand final plans, with Dale Morris joining Matt Suckling and Jordan Roughead as players with question marks over their fitness.
Luke Beveridge’s players had a day off on Wednesday, but a surprise appearance by Morris at Whitten Oval raised queries over his place in the side to face Sydney.
Morris was spied undertaking an individual training session behind closed doors, but he denied the workout was a fitness test.
“No test … I just got some treatment with the physios,” Morris said as he left the club.
Morris sent a scare through the Bulldogs camp in the minutes before their preliminary final against Greater Western Sydney when he appeared to receive treatment on his right heel.
But the 33-year-old played out the game, later claiming the drama was over incorrect orthotic inserts he uses in his boots.
Suckling missed that game, with the club saying he has been hampered by an Achilles complaint.
But football boss Chris Grant said match-up concerns had also been a factor in the former Hawk’s omission.
Before that revelation Suckling’s inclusion in the grand final team had been thought of as a given if he was able to prove his fitness.
“It’s sort of a combination, of all of that,” Grant replied when asked if injury or lack of a match-up had been behind the defender’s omission.
“Matt’s obviously been a pretty important player for us but certainly the GWS set-up with three talls in there gave us an opportunity of doing something differently.
“We may have to do something different this week because of the nature of Sydney’s team, (but) it’s a nice problem to have when you’ve got a large amount of players that you can choose from.”
Grant dismissed reports Suckling suffered a setback in his recovery from the Achilles tendon injury that has restricted him to four appearances in the Bulldogs’ past eight games.
He took part in a 45-minute training session with a 30-strong squad on Tuesday but then appeared less than convincing when he was put through his paces on his own by fitness staff and assistant coach Rohan Smith.
“No, he was fine – he trained well,” Grant said.
“Matt’s a professional and a good guy, so if he’s sore he’ll let us know but he trained well.”
In his first season with the Bulldogs, Suckling is aiming to play in his fourth grand final.
He was part of Hawthorn’s winning teams in 2014 and 2015 and the side beaten by Sydney in 2012.
His possible omission even if passed fit would be a bitter pill to swallow.
“There will be some extremely disappointed players,” Grant said.
“But what’s really pleasing is the way that those who have missed out over the course of the finals series have remained fully invested in their teammates.
“It’s why we’ve got this far – they’re fully invested in each other.”
There’s better news for Roughead, who is on track to play, with Grant telling reporters he is progressing well as he fights to overcome an eye bleed suffered when he copped a blow to the face against the Giants.