Peel’s premiership hopes have been dealt a big blow with forward Sam Sturt ruled out of their semifinal clash with Claremont because of a hamstring injury.
Sturt starred for the Thunder in their elimination final victory over South Fremantle last weekend, booting three of their eight goals after half-time as they over-ran last year’s grand finallists.
The Fremantle forward played the second half of the game with the injury, which he sustained in the second quarter, but has been ruled out of the game against the Tigers at Revo Fitness Stadium on Sunday.
It is understood the injury is just minor and Sturt could be available for the preliminary final should the Thunder defeat the Tigers to qualify.
His omission is one of five changes for Peel, with Dockers spearhead Matt Taberner and speedster Travis Colyer not qualifying for finals.
Reigning fairest and best Tyrone Throne has also been withdrawn for personal reasons but like Sturt should be available for the preliminary final.
Sturt (26 goals in 17 games) leads the Thunder’s goalkicking in 2022, but they will now rely on second-year Fremantle forward Josh Treacy (18 goals in 13 games) and Blair Bell (25 in 16) to kick a winning score against Claremont.
Fremantle forward Joel Western has earned a recall after missing the elimination final as one of 12 Dockers in the team, while teenage forward Luke Polson will play just his fourth league game in the cut-throat final. Ben Middleton, Brodie Carroll and James Sturrock have also been named.
Polson booted two goals from 14 disposals against the Tigers in round 18 and will provide another tall target for the Thunder.
Claremont have been forced to make two changes, with former Adelaide-listed midfielder Ronin O’Connor and forward Max Minear coming in for injured pair Steven Miller (knee) and Lawrence Evans (shoulder).
Rebound defender Jason Carter has been passed fit to play after injuring his let in their loss to East Fremantle, while Miller could return this finals series after he escaped a serious knee injury, which has been diagnosed with bone bruising.