It’s grand final heart break for Max Holmes, with the Geelong youngster a confirmed late out for Saturday’s marquee match against Sydney.
Holmes has been in doubt all week with a hamstring injury sustained in last week’s preliminary final win over Brisbane, but the Cats gave him up until match day to play including naming him in the 22-man side.
Geelong development coach Shaun Grigg confirmed on 3AW on Saturday that Mark O’Connor would come into the side, while Brandon Parfitt would be named the medical sub.
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Speaking on Fox Footy ahead of Saturday’s decider, four-time premiership Hawk Jason Dunstall believes the Cats made the right call to exclude Holmes if he isn’t fully fit.
“You can’t take risks, if you’re not 100 per cent sure – 99 per cent isn’t enough – you’ve got to be 100 per cent,” Dunstall said.
“You can’t go in with a risk, and then find five minutes in, you’re one down … it’s heartbreaking.”
The 20-year old Holmes, named to play on Thursday, didn’t join in the short captain’s run at lunchtime at the MCG on Friday, but had a secret training session in the morning beforehand.
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He’s played 18 games for Geelong this season as one of its most brightest young players coming through the ranks.
It includes a particularly strong opening final against Collingwood where Holmes kicked the match-winning goal in the dying stages.
However Kangaroos legend David King also thinks leaving him out is a powerful statement to the rest of the Cats side.
“I think it sends a great message to the group as well: ‘We’re not prepared to play Max at 99 per cent. Bring your best, you’re in the team, we’re right to go. This is the very best we can be’,” he said.
“And Max I think has been a significant contributor for them over the last six to eight weeks – No. 1 wingman in the competition – who wins contests. Wingmen generally are great runners, they’re not contest winners. He’s a star.”
Dual All-Australian Leigh Montagna believes it’s a “huge loss” for Geelong due to the pace the youngster provides through the midfield.
“If Geelong lose this game and we say after: ‘Sydney’s run through the midfield and their spread was too much.’ Maybe then they question, ‘could we have played Holmes?’” He posed.
“That’s why we’ve got the sub now, you’ve got that little bit of insurance there. It’s a big call and we’ll find out if it was the right decision post-game.”