PORT ADELAIDE defender Tom Clurey has been ruled out of Monday’s final game of the home and away season with a hamstring injury, and his backline coach Brett Montgomery says it will give someone else an opportunity to impress ahead of the finals.
Clurey has a minor hamstring injury suffered in the win over Essendon on Saturday and won’t be risked against Collingwood next week.
Montgomery says the injury is minor and Clurey is expected to be available for the club’s first final.
“It’s on the lesser side of being serious so (taking) a conservative approach, like I said it’s minor, but he won’t play this week,” Montgomery said in a press conference on Tuesday.
“We don’t have any doubt that he’ll be available for our game straight after that with the break that we’ve been given.
“Disappointing for him, disappointing for us but he won’t play.”
Port has a healthy list and plenty of other players pushing for selection.
Montgomery listed several including Jack Watts, who hasn’t played since a nasty leg injury in 2019, and first-year defender Miles Bergman.
“We think we’ve got enough guys that have been able to put a really good block together,” the backline coach said.
“We’ve been fortunate to get four or five games into the guys that aren’t playing so whether it’s a like for like or whether we reshuffle things, we’ll take a bit of a look.
“We’ve got (Jarrod) Lienert, (Sam) Mayes, (Cam) Sutcliffe, (Miles) Bergman, (Joel) Garner – we’ve got a few guys there that we’re comfortable to play and I think it only just grows our squad going into what will be an important month.”
And while Port has a top-two spot sewn up and two home finals to look forward to, Montgomery said there was no discussion around resting players.
“We’ve had a decent month in terms of training blocks and time off and days between games but with this one a nine day break and then potentially a ten or eleven day break off the back of this, we just don’t see the need to the point where we’ve pushed guys to play at the lower level in these scratch matches that we’ve been able to play to make sure that they’re ready to play rather than rested,” he explained.
“Shortened games, passages of play where we’re dominant and have lots of times in possession, there’s a whole range of things that indicate we don’t need to rest anyone right now.”
Monday’s game pits Port against a Collingwood outfit desperate to get match fitness into some key players returning from injury and at the Gabba – the venue where the Grand Final will be played.
And while it would be easy to start dreaming of finals success, Montgomery said the side would not be looking that far ahead.
“We’re fortunate to play another really good side this week at the Grand Final venue so I don’t think we want to be taking our eyes off that game,” he explained.
“They’ll be up, I’m sure they’ve got some points to prove and we’ve been looking for consistency all the way through.
“We thought we played pretty well on the weekend but prior to that we thought we were a little bit off and still building, so we’ll be using this game for form.
“I know with spots being tight, players will be pushing pretty hard to make sure they cement that spot.”
Port has held top spot since the Round 1 win over Gold Coast, way back in March, yet has rarely been mentioned by pundits among their premiership contenders.
That does not bother Montgomery, who knows the belief within the group is high.
“When I hear that stuff, it’s more about the credits the teams that they do rate have built up over time rather than what they think we are or aren’t – that’s my take on it,” he said.
“Richmond have deserved all the honours and credibility that they’ve got and I think West Coast are the same and so on and so on.
“25-26 weeks at the top is a pretty good effort.
“We had a good pre-season and I don’t think we necessarily put a foot wrong through that period either.
“We haven’t been at our absolute top form all through those 26 weeks but we’ve done enough to win every week which is a huge improvement on last year and the year before.”