By Peter Blucher
Lachy Keeffe, the almost forgotten member of the Queensland football family, has sent a gentle reminder to GWS coach Leon Cameron …. “don’t forget about me”.
Having not played at AFL level in seven weeks, and spent 14 of 15 weeks out of the top side, Keeffe made every post a winner when he got a late call-up last weekend.
Called into the side to play against Collingwood in Sydney on Saturday afternoon when captain Phil Davis was a late withdrawal, he acquitted himself really well.
His statistics were nothing out of this world – 10 disposals, two tackles and five one-percenters – but it was the way he slipped so seamlessly into the Giants side that will have delighted Cameron.
And while even Keeffe wouldn’t suggest that he will keep Davis out of the side in the finals, he will have left Cameron in no doubt he can do the job if necessary.
It has been a tough period for Keeffe after his two-year ban for taking an illicit substance saw him miss the entire 2015-16 seasons after he had played 40 games in four years at Collingwood, including 18 in 2014.
He returned to football midway through the 2017 season but was unable to break into the Magpies senior side and was de-listed at the end of the season.
Thrown a lifeline by the Giants, he has become a real favorite with the youngest of the AFL clubs for the manner in which he goes about things off the field and his genuine versatility on the field.
At 29 he will be out of contract at the end of the season, but such is his capacity to play his role he is expected to get another chance with the Giants next season.
So, too, will fellow Queenslander Sam Reid, who had 17 possessions to go with a goal and seven tackles for the Giants in his recurring “fix-it” role.
As Keeffe and Reid did their finals selection credentials no harm, so, too, did Richmond’s Mabior Chol.
In his fifth game in a row Chol had 10 disposals, seven hit-outs, four tackles and a goal as the Tigers beat Port Adelaide at the MCG.
So impressive has he been as the second ruck / forward Chol is looking more and more likely the retain his spot ahead of Ivan Soldo when first-choice ruckman Toby Nankervis returns from injury.
Also last weekend, the Wagner brothers both returned to the Melbourne side and bot did well in their narrow loss to West Coast in Alice Springs.
Corey Wagner was a multiple goal-kicker for the first time in his 14th game, kicking two goals to go with 16 possessions, including eight contested possessions, and Josh topped 20 disposals for the seventh time in his 39-game career. He had 21 disposals, including nine contested possessions.
In the same game, Melbourne back-up ruckman Brayden Preuss had seven disposals and 18 hit-outs, while West Coast’s Tom Hickey did well to match it with Demons ace Max Gawn and collect 11 possessions and 20 hit-outs.
At Marvel Stadium, Gold Coast’s Alex Sexton kicked three goals in their loss to Carlton to take his season tally to a career-high 31 – with five games to play.
Sexton finds himself equal 12th on the AFL goal-kicking list and only four goals behind Brisbane’s Charlie Cameron, who sits sixth on the list and leads the Queensland goal-kicking tally with 35.
Also in the Suns side, Jacob Dawson picked up 11 disposals in his first game of the year, Jarrod Harbrow had 16, Jacob Heron a career-best 16 in his 11th game, and Jesse Joyce 11.
In the Brisbane side which beat North Melbourne at the Gabba, Dayne Zorko was the standout Queenslander with 22 possessions and seven tackles, and key role in the last couple of minutes when the game was on the line.
And in Perth, Aliir Aliir had 16 disposals reverting to his preferred role in defence for Sydney in their loss to Fremantle.