Star Demons to return for grand final re-match; Beveridge not biting on Jones

In today’s AFL briefing, your daily wrap of footy news:

  • Stars back for the Demons to take on the Bulldogs.
  • Beveridge on Bulldogs’ interest in ex-Blues defender.
  • The head of Sydney’s academy has left after 13 years.

Check in throughout the day for updates.

Oliver, Lever back for the Demons’ grand final re-match

Melbourne will regain star onballer Clayton Oliver for Saturday night’s massive clash with the Western Bulldogs.

Coach Simon Goodwin also expects defender Jake Lever to play after he hurt his shoulder in last week’s win over Port Adelaide.

Oliver missed the Power match because of thumb surgery, but he will return after one week out of action.

Clayton Oliver and Jake Lever are set to return.Credit:Getty Images

The Marvel Stadium blockbuster against last year’s fellow grand finalists starts a big run to the finals for the Demons.

Their next five opponents ahead of September are all in the top eight.

Melbourne are second behind Geelong after patchy mid-season form, but Goodwin feels they are regaining their mojo ahead of the business end of the season.


Beveridge not biting on Jones talk

Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge has refused to buy into speculation the club is chasing anti-vaccination defender Liam Jones.

Bulldogs football manager Chris Grant reportedly met with Jones on Tuesday as the 31-year-old eyes a return to the AFL.

“You know Liam’s manager lives a few doors up from Chris Grant so someone’s obviously seen him walking into his manager’s place and assumed it was Granty’s place,” Beveridge said.

“With any potential acquisition players, I’ll always be silent during the year just out of respect for our own playing group.

“Anything that’s in the pipeline from a list management perspective I’m always silent on, so I won’t give you any confirmation or otherwise on any players we might be thinking about.”

But Beveridge did indicate the Bulldogs were likely to be in the hunt for a key defender ahead of next season.

“Like every club should be, you’ve got to do your own due diligence to make sure that you’re doing the right thing by your members and the current playing group to ensure that you’re well stocked and you’re better each year,” he said.

“We’re quite vigilant behind the scenes in what we might be doing at the end of the year, but I don’t want to be specific around needs.

Liam Jones chose to retire from AFL football rather than get vaccinated.Credit:Getty Images

“There’s a lot of commentary around where we might be able to improve our group and you’d imagine we might be thinking along similar lines.”

Jones opted to retire rather than be on Carlton’s inactive list after refusing to be following the AFL’s decision to mandate COVID-19 vaccination last October.

But with the AFL last week ending its compulsory vaccine mandate, Jones is free to return to an elite club next year.

If Jones does return to the Whitten Oval, it would be an unlikely homecoming after he played 66 games for the Bulldogs between 2010 and 2014.

Jones reinvented himself as a strong marking defender at Carlton, playing 95 games for the Blues before his an unexpected retirement.

As well as reported interested from the Bulldogs, Essendon are also looking at recruiting Jones.


Swans academy head departs

Peter Ryan

The long-serving head of the Sydney Swans’ successful academy program Chris Smith has finished up in the role after 13 years, about six months after the program’s head coach Jared Crouch left.

The northern academies program that Smith built has been a bedrock for the club yielding outstanding talent for the Swans such as Isaac Heeney, Callum Mills, Nick Blakey, Errol Gulden, Braeden Campbell and James Wicks.

Graduates of the program have also made their way to other clubs, including the Giants’ Jack Buckley, Adelaide’s Ben Davis and Carlton’s Luke Parks.

Parents of players involved in the Academy were informed via email of Smith’s departure.

The club expects to use the opportunity presented to re-assess the program’s priorities and where resources are directed with the academies vital to the Giants, Gold Coast and Brisbane Lions’ programs.

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