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Selection intrigue as Hawks call up talls

Football

Premiership midfielder Brandon Ellis is the unlucky casualty as Richmond recalled Kane Lambert for the AFL qualifying final against Hawthorn.

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Ellis’ axing highlights the strength of the Tigers lineup for tonight’s clash at the MCG.

Hawthorn made three changes, recalling Jonathon Ceglar to partner Ben McEvoy in the ruck and also regaining defenders James Sicily and James Frawley.

But there is intrigue around the Hawks selections, with wet weather forecast and tagger Daniel Howe back from five weeks’ suspension.

Howe was named among the Hawks’ emergencies and he could be a late inclusion.

It is the second time this year that the Tigers have dropped Ellis.

He was omitted after round five, ending his streak of 111 AFL games, and he has played 18 senior matches this season.

All four recalls for Thursday night have returned from injury.

Lambert, one of Richmond’s best players this season, missed the last two rounds of the season because of ankle surgery.

“He trained a full session (on Tuesday), so he’ll come in ready to go,” said coach Damien Hardwick.

“Really pleasing for us; he’s such an important player to the way we play and it’s a great turnaround.”

But forward Dan Butler remains sidelined because of his ankle surgery and he will not play in the VFL this weekend.

Sicily is back from the broken wrist he suffered in round 17, while Frawley (jarred back) and Ceglar (corked calf) also have proved their fitness.

Newcomers Teia Miles, Dave Mirra and Kaiden Brand make way for them.

Hawks coach Alastair Clarkson said before Thursday morning training that they wanted to test Sicily’s hand before confirming his selection.

“Now it’s all about his touch and his ball work, that sort of stuff,” Clarkson said.

“We’ll get that tested, particularly punching the ball.

Provided Ceglar partners McEvoy, rather than being a late omission for Howe, it will be to exploit Toby Nankervis as Richmond’s sole specialist ruckman.

“We’ve gone in with two ruckmen for the majority of contests in the second half of the season, and it’s seemed to work quite well for us,” Hawks football boss Graham Wright told the club website.

“Cegs will be able to provide another marking target when resting up forward, which again offers valuable depth to our line up.”

– AAP

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