The axing of goalsneak Menzel for tonight’s blockbuster qualifying final against Richmond fuels speculation he will not be at the Cats next season, and could seek a return to Adelaide, where his brother Troy plays for the Crows.
Menzel is about to come out of contract and talks with the club are on hold until their season ends.
The forward has overcome four knee reconstructions to become one of Geelong’s frontline players.
He has kicked 38 goals in 17 games this season, but the knock on him is that he does not apply enough tackling pressure.
“I just wonder… whether you can still carry in modern footy, and maybe Stevie J (Steve Johnson) is a good example, a player who can’t quite put that defensive pressure on,” former Cats premiership captain Cameron Ling said on 3AW.
The Cats also dropped emerging cult figure Wylie Buzza. Captain Joel Selwood returns from ankle surgery for his first game since round 20 and Zach Guthrie has also been recalled.
Richmond midfielder Josh Caddy will return from his hamstring injury and Oleg Markov makes way.
Sydney sprang the other big selection surprise for the opening weekend of the finals, dropping ruck-forward Tippett, who crossed to the Swans from Adelaide in acrimonious circumstances, for tomorrow’s SCG elimination final against Essendon.
Tippett makes way for ruckman Sam Naismith, who returns from an abdominal strain.
The popular thinking was that Callum Sinclair, not Tippett, would make way for Naismith.
Earlier yesterday, Sydney vice-captain Luke Parker confirmed injured teammates Dan Hannebery and Tom Papley would return against Essendon.
Hannebery (hip) and Papley (knee) missed the final round of the regular season.
The Swans dropped Harry Cunningham and South Australian Will Hayward, who earned the dubious distinction of going out of the side the game after receiving a Rising Star nomination.
The Bombers suffered a significant blow, losing key forward Cale Hooker to bone bruising in a leg.
Hooker, Michael Hurley and Orazio Fantasia went through fitness tests at Essendon’s Wednesday training.
While Hurley (calf) and Fantasia (hamstring) return, the absence of Hooker – a late withdrawal from the Round 23 side – will mean significant changes to how the Bombers set up in attack.
The Bombers have also dropped Jayden Laverde.
Port Adelaide have brought in Jarman Impey for Aidyn Johnson, while West Coast are unchanged for their Saturday elimination final at Adelaide Oval.
The Power opted not to recall swingman Jackson Trengove, who was named as an emergency.
Trengove becomes a restricted free agent at the end of this season and there is speculation he will leave the Power.
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