Albury co-coach Shaun Daly admits the decision to axe five-time premiership player John Mitchell and emerging utility Brady Morton was the most difficult call of the year.
The Tigers made four changes for Saturday’s grand final qualifier against Wodonga Raiders at North Albury’s Bunton Park, recalling multiple flag winners Brayden O’Hara and Luke Packer, along with Jessy Wilson and Dean Heta.
“Certainly the toughest (decision) of this year, for sure,” Daly said.
“If you get a lot of people available at the right time of the year then you’re always going to have blokes that are really stiff to miss out.”
It’s a seismic shift from last year when the Tigers were starting to get hit by injuries.
The toughest ... you’re always going to have blokes that are really stiff to miss.Shaun Daly
In fact in the corresponding second semi against Wangaratta, Packer did his hamstring and failed to recover for the decider, while Daniel Cross tore his calf and was hampered in the grand final loss.
Former Wagga Tiger Morton hadn’t missed a game in his two years.
“It’s more a match-up for us, we’re still waiting on some guys to see how they pull up to 100 per cent before we finalise how they’re going,” Daly said.
“Brady’s an emergency, potentially he could play.”
O’Hara and Packer have been named for their first game since July 21, with the club certain to adopt a cautious attitude if there’s any doubt on their availability.
Mitchell has played just the four games, two in reserves, after arriving home late due to work and his equestrian commitments.
“We just felt he needs another game in the reserves to get his touch back,” Daly said.
But the mentor is adamant none of the dumped quartet is out of the equation.
“Absolutely not … they just need to play good footy and put themselves back up there,” he said.
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