Kieran Jack will miss Sydney’s crunch semi-final with North Melbourne after coach John Longmire decided on a low-risk approach with the Swans co-captain.
Jack, 28, looked done and dusted for the season after suffering a medial ligament strain in the club’s round 23 win over Gold Coast.
A quicker than anticipated recovery had Jack in the frame for a miraculous recovery, egged on when teammate Luke Parker said on Tuesday he would take the field against the unchanged Kangaroos.
After training on Thursday, Longmire made the call to make his star midfielder wait another week, suggesting Jack should be fine to head to Perth to play West Coast should the Swans progress.
“He was looking okay and was close, but we just didn’t want to risk him getting injured in such a cut-throat game,” Longmire told the club’s website.
“But the good sign is he was very close.”
The Swans have returned defender Nick Smith to the team for Sam Reid, who suffered a season-ending hamstring injury against Fremantle in their qualifying final.
Rhyce Shaw, who will play his last AFL match in Sydney on Saturday night, said Smith’s inclusion would hugely benefit the Swans – and perhaps give him the chance for a foray forward or two.
“He’s the premier small defender in the competition, so it’s a real big plus for us,” he said.
“It allows me to run off a little bit more knowing that Nick has got my back all the time.”
In Friday night’s MCG blockbuster, Hawthorn have made two changes to their team to face Adelaide.
The Hawks have dropped 2014 finals hero Will Langford for their semi-final with Adelaide, opting for the speed of Billy Hartung.
Ryan Schoenmakers was preferred to Matt Spangher as a replacement for injured forward Jack Gunston (ankle).
Langford was a revelation this time last year but has been dropped for the second time this season and will play for VFL affiliate Box Hill in search of better form.
“Will’s a little bit unlucky, but his form hasn’t quite been where we need it to be,” Hawthorn football boss Chris Fagan told the club’s website.
“Billy Hartung’s come into the team to provide some extra run and speed, which we think will be useful at the MCG.”
Fagan said Schoenmakers brings the Hawks versatility.
“He can play either back or forward, which allows James Frawley to either play back or forward, so we could do anything there with those guys,” he said.
The Crows have omitted runner Rory Atkins for Jarryd Lyons.