REFRESHED Western Magpies are setting their sights on grabbing one of the three finals double-chances, a campaign that starts on Saturday with a home match against Burleigh.
The Magpies had a much-needed bye last round, a rest coach Pete McClennan believes will work well for his charges.
But the Magpies have a huge list of ‘unavailables’ this weekend.
McClennan said seven Magpies are with the Brisbane Lions reserves (four of whom are regarded as certain selections in the club’s top 22), there are 10 injured and another four unavailable.
“That’s 21 players we couldn’t select this weekend – but we’ll be all right,” he said confidently.
“It was good to have a week off and I think they’ll all benefit from the refresh.”
At team selection, the Magpies lost ruckman Hayden Thick (dental surgery) and defender Ed McDonnell, who is overseas.
The Maggies regain young midfielder Conrad Hutchins, who broke his collarbone in the match against Burleigh earlier in the season, and they called up full-back Cam Mitchelhill, who has been playing with the Lions.
While the Magpies are cruising towards a top-three finals finish, Burleigh teeter on the precipice of finals action.
The Bombers are seventh on the ladder with 20 points, four out of the top five.
Getting to the top five by late August would become far more difficult should they lose this weekend, though.
The Bombers will have three changes after losing wingman Hugh Priest (work) and Zac Tschirn (ankle) and Blake Cooke is back to the reserves.
The Bombers regain class pair Tim McKay and Matt O’Brien and may field Southport midfielder Dane Carmody on permit.
Priest is a significant loss for the Bombers, simply because of his sheer pace and ball-getting ability.
He has had to head to India for a month with his work.
“That is a big blow for us,” said coach Zane Doubleday. “If only for the pace factor, because he’s one of the quickest in the competition.
“We’re under no illusions this is going to be a tough task because we haven’t beaten anyone above us on the ladder yet.
“It has been an inconsistent season – we’ve been playing in fits and starts.”