Royal welcome back for big four
Royal welcome back for big four

East Perth are set to rush back Josh Smith, Michael Swan, Jarrad Oakley-Nicholls and Kyle Anderson for tomorrow's first semifinal against East Fremantle.

Full-forward Smith, co-captain Swan, key defender Anderson and half-forward Oakley-Nicholls were missing from the side which rounded off the qualifying season with a 14-point loss to West Perth at Medibank Stadium last Saturday.

All played crucial roles in East Perth's return to finals action in 2012 and would be welcome additions for tomorrow's cutthroat final against the Sharks at East Fremantle Oval.

Smith has been troubled by a knee injury in the second half of the season, with Swan (quadriceps) and Anderson (hamstring) also ruled out of the Falcons match.

Oakley-Nicholls has completed a two-week suspension after being found guilty of biting Perth's Julian Jacobs in the round-21 match at Medibank Stadium.

Four-times WAFL premiership coach Tony Micale said East Perth's indifferent finish to the home-and-away season could be attributed in part to Swan's absence.

The Royals' hopes of a top-two finish and double chance in the finals disappeared when they lost three of their last four matches, with Swan missing three of those.

"Michael's leadership is invaluable," Micale said.

"He is an outstanding leader both on and off the footy field. I think our inconsistency over the past month can be attributed to that."

Micale said the likely inclusion of Swan, Smith, Anderson and Oakley-Nicholls would improve his side's chances against East Fremantle.

"Personnel-wise, we haven't had a full squad available to us," he said. "We are hoping that with the addition of four or five players that we haven't had playing with us consistently over the past month will help."

Smith, the Simpson medallist in last year's State game against Queensland in Mandurah, finished third on the WAFL goal kickers list with 52

The 26-year-old played 11 games for North Melbourne from 2008 to 2010 and was a member of VFL premiership team North Ballarat in 2008, 2009 and 2010.

East Fremantle are likely to bolster their side by adding tough midfielder Koby Stevens and Mitch Brown if they are released to play by West Coast.

Ruckman Jonathon Griffin could also play for East Fremantle after not being selected for Fremantle's match against Geelong at the MCG tomorrow night.

Sharks midfielder Cameron Sutcliffe was in the Fremantle travelling party, as well as East Perth's Zac Clarke and Dylan Roberton.

League regulars James Bayliss and Max Duffy are also expected to be available for the Sharks after recovering from long-term injuries. Duffy, East Fremantle's leading goal kicker early in the season, and defender Bayliss are more likely to play in the reserves second semifinal against Claremont at Claremont Oval.

East Fremantle won two of three games between the two clubs this year, beating the Royals by 64 points in round 17 at East Fremantle Oval and seven points at Medibank Stadium in round 23. East Perth, with Smith and Anderson in the best, had a four-point win against East Fremantle at East Fremantle Oval in round six.

The West Australian

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