Dockers punt on Silvagni
Fremantle defender Alex Silvagni arrives in Melbourne. Picture: Nathan Dyer / The West Australian.

Alex Silvagni has been given the chance to rejuvenate his stalled career after Fremantle handed him the biggest challenge of his football life - standing either James Podsiadly or Tom Hawkins in tomorrow night's elimination final at the MCG.

Silvagni, in grand form for Claremont in recent weeks, got the nod over veteran Antoni Grover to replace injured star Luke McPharlin, a decision that could end Grover's hopes of a fairytale finals return.

It will be Silvagni's third game this season.

And the prospect of a damp night at the MCG also had serious implications for support ruckman Jonathon Griffin, with Kepler Bradley preferred in the starting 22 and Zac Clarke chosen as the emergency. Griffin should line up for East Fremantle in the first semi- final against East Perth tomorrow.

Fremantle took a squad of 25 to Melbourne, with Cameron Sutcliffe, Dylan Roberton and Clarke travelling as spares.

Silvagni's form, greater field time and body size all counted in his favour ahead of Grover.

"He is in the squad and he is likely to play," stoppage coach Mark Stone said. "He has been playing some really good football at Claremont.

"He has been consistent throughout the year in terms of playing time and his minutes and he has played games for us in the past and come in and done the role asked of him.

"We think he can do that again. He is strong. He can body up and defend that way. Our big challenge is Hawkins, Podsiadly, (Nathan) Vardy and (Trent) West, but we think that with our key defenders plus with our defensive systems that we can get back and support them as much as we can.

"But we know they are going to have to win some one on ones."

Stone said Silvagni's greater match minutes at Claremont was significant.

"Antoni is still training and he is still putting his hand up for selection," he said. "We just went for Alex because he had more minutes and we think with defenders, with the interchange these days, they have to play 100-odd minutes or perhaps a bit more. He just is in better shape."

Bradley, who missed Fremantle's round-23 clash against Melbourne with concussion, still has to pull up well from a final training session.

Stone said Griffin was unfortunate after kicking two goals against the Demons last Saturday night.

"It is unfortunate for anyone that gets left out of the team at any stage during the year and it is unfortunate for Jon," he said.

"But there is a chance of a shower and it is a night game, and we don't want to get caught too big so we have gone for a bit more mobility."

Geelong made a single change to the team that beat Sydney last Saturday, bringing in Jonathan Simpkin for the suspended Steve Johnson.

The West Australian

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