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Grand final dream over for Magpie; Giant call on coach of the year; Neale wants Lions to lift for Zorko

Grand final dream over for Magpie; Giant call on coach of the year; Neale wants Lions to lift for Zorko

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Collingwood coach Craig McRae has been spared an agonising selection call on vice-captain Taylor Adams, whose grand final dream has been officially declared over.

As defender Billy Frampton vaulted into calculations to replace injured key forward Dan McStay, Adams became the club’s second heartbreak story of grand final week after failing to get through training on Tuesday morning.

McRae and his match committee were to make a call on Adams after Thursday’s training session, but the developments on Tuesday have taken the decision out of their hands.

Taylor Adams leaves training early on Tuesday.

Taylor Adams leaves training early on Tuesday.Credit: Andrew Wu

In Brisbane, defender Jack Payne took part in marking, stoppage work and agility exercises to test his injured ankle. His fate will be sealed after training on Thursday.

The carnival atmosphere among the 3000 or so Magpies fans at Olympic Park contrasted with the stony-faced expression Adams carried in his bid to prove his fitness.

The veteran was the first man on the track, and also the first off it after experiencing what the club described as ‘hamstring awareness’.

Adams had completed several 75- 100-metre run-throughs at close to top speed, picked up several ground balls and taken part in some kicking and goalkicking drills before pulling stumps.

He cut a desolate figure as he walked off the track, passing football boss Graham Wright without saying a word before heading down the stairs to the dressing room. He did not return as teammates took part in match simulation.

Teammate Jeremy Howe followed about 15 minutes later, laughing and joking with a staffer. Howe and skipper Darcy Moore did not join in match practice.


Confirmation of Adams’ fate came in the afternoon.

“Unfortunate news for Taylor Adams who experienced hamstring awareness during training today which will see him miss the grand final,” Wright said in a statement.

“Taylor is an ultimate professional and a true leader both on and off the field and we will wrap our arms around him and continue to support him this week.

“Taylor was incredibly eager to be out there with his teammates and left no stone unturned in his rehabilitation and recovery and we all share in his disappointment.”

Adams was dealt a shattering finals hand as well last year when he tore his groin in the qualifying final, ruling him out for the rest of the Pies’ September campaign. The Magpies hardman spoke of his anguish late last year.

“There were certainly times where I’d be driving to the football club, and I’d have to pull my car over and take a moment and gather myself,” Adams told 3AW.

“Watching the boys sing the song was heartbreaking to miss out on because if you ask most footballers, they’ll say that’s the most enjoyable 15 minutes of the week after a win.”

Adams, a veteran of 206 games who turned 30 last week, played a starring role in the 2018 grand final, finishing second in Norm Smith Medal voting with 31 possessions and a goal in the Pies’ five-point defeat. It would not have counted against him if a decision was required.

The Pies’ major call at selection now appears to be whether to play Frampton in the starting 22 or opt for goalsneak Jack Ginnivan in a re-shaped attacking set-up.

Frampton was stationed as the deep forward in simulated match practice for the supposed “A” team, taking a few pack marks in a drill that was conducted at only moderate intensity.

Frampton’s primary position is in defence though he has played ruck/forward in several games this year. He was wearing the black jumper worn mainly by the players who played in the preliminary final win over Greater Western Sydney.

Billy Frampton at training.

Billy Frampton at training.Credit: Getty Images

Replacing McStay with Frampton would enable the Pies to maintain the forward structure of two tall targets and allow ruckmen Mason Cox and Darcy Cameron to continue in their current roles.

Ginnivan, who swapped between the white and the black guernseys, is another contender to take McStay’s place. Defender John Noble, who trained in the white, would be favourite to come in as the sub if Ginnivan is promoted into the starting line-up.

Noble’s running power may be needed with temperatures expected to reach 28 degrees on Saturday.

Kingsley wins coach of the year in first season at Giants

Peter Ryan

GWS coach Adam Kingsley says he will eventually be able to reflect on the progress his team made after he followed in the footsteps of former colleague Collingwood coach Craig McRae in winning the coach of the year in his first season.

And like McRae last year, he wins the award despite his team not making the grand final after they lost the preliminary final by one point to finish fourth. He edged out grand final coaches McRae and Chris Fagan to win the award.

Kingsley’s performance to drag the Giants back into premiership contention after they finished 2022 in 16th spot was recognised at the AFL Coaches’ Association Awards night.

Adam Kingsley has been a revelation in his first season coaching GWS.

Adam Kingsley has been a revelation in his first season coaching GWS.Credit: AFL Photos / Getty Images

“While still disappointed by the result on Friday night, in time I think we’ll look back on this season with a great amount of pride, particularly in the growth of our group. I’m determined to continue to learn and grow and, along with our great group of assistant coaches, am excited by what we can achieve together into the future,” Kingsley said.

The Giants appointed the 48-year-old to replace Leon Cameron, and he set about revamping their game style and introduced a fitness regime that saw the Giants win 11 of their last 14 matches of the season and be eliminated in the preliminary final after losing to Collingwood by just one point.

Remarkably the Giants sat 14th on the ladder after round 15 before things clicked under Kingsley and they played not only winning football but an exciting brand of football.

One of the first and biggest decisions Kingsley made was to appoint Toby Greene as skipper on his own, moving away from the three captains model. Greene became All-Australian captain while the two former skippers Stephen Coniglio and Josh Kelly recaptured the form that had put them among the game’s elite players earlier in their career.

The Giants only conceded more than 100 points once after round 12 with their defence rated as the best in the AFL in the back half of the year.

Adelaide assistant coach James Rahilly won assistant coach of the year just ahead of Geelong’s Nigel Lappin and Hawthorn’s David Hale while Melbourne’s Mark Williams and Adelaide’s Michael Godden were awarded joint development coaches of the year.

It was a big night for the Crows on Tuesday as their former senior coach Neil Craig was awarded the prestigious Neale Daniher Lifetime Achievement Award.

Craig was mentor to a series of young coaches as coaching director at several clubs including Melbourne, Essendon Carlton and the Gold Coast after he finished up at the Crows following 177 games as senior coach which included five finals appearances in seven seasons. His illustrious playing and coaching career began at Norwood in the SANFL.

‘Do it for Dayne’: Neale wants Lions to lift for Zorko

Jon Pierik

Dual Brownlow medallist Lachie Neale says he will “hunt” Collingwood but won’t look to do anything special in Saturday’s grand final, and has urged teammates to get the job done for Dayne Zorko.

Neale was named the league’s best and fairest on Monday night in another tight count, this time edging Western Bulldogs captain Marcus Bontempelli and Collingwood star Nick Daicos.

While Neale could be forgiven for thinking his elevated status meant he needed to dominate the Magpies if the Lions are to win, the robust midfielder pointed to the Lions’ performances against Port Adelaide and Carlton this September. Neale was held to 19 disposals against the Power, and 23 against the Blues in a preliminary final on Saturday. He averaged 27 touches per game through the home-and-away campaign.

Back to work: A day after celebrating his second Brownlow medal with wife Julie, Lachie Neale wants the Lions to get the job done on Saturday for Dayne Zorko.

Back to work: A day after celebrating his second Brownlow medal with wife Julie, Lachie Neale wants the Lions to get the job done on Saturday for Dayne Zorko.Credit: AFL Photos / Getty Images

“I have been far from the best player on the ground in both finals, and we have had two really good wins. I don’t have to do anything special on the weekend,” Neale said on Tuesday.

“I have just got to play my role, hunt the footy, hunt the Pies, try and get the ball going our way. That’s my role. It’s not got to do with doing anything special, kicking goals … it’s about playing my part in what is an amazing team. We are all about the team. It’s not about me at all.”

Neale clutched at his right shoulder after a heavy tackle against the Blues, but has declared himself fit to play this week.

Neale urged his teammates to celebrate veteran Dayne Zorko’s 250th game in style by delivering the club’s long-time heartbeat a richly deserved premiership. The former captain and five-time best and fairest, off contract this season, has had a strong September, with 15 touches and a goal against the Power, and 22 against the Blues.

“His passion and love for this club is unrivalled. He has been through some really tough times with this footy club. Hopefully, we can deliver a premiership medallion for him,” Neale said.

I love that bloke and what he has brought to this footy club. He has been an amazing mentor and friend of mine for the last five years. Congrats on him for 250 - what a way to bring that up in a grand final. Hopefully, we can celebrate afterwards with 23 medallions around our necks. He will be well-deserving of a premiership.”

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