At Essendon, aside from the five players lost to injury, they also left out Michael Hartley. With Heppell returning, the Bombers have also included Ben McNiece, Shaun McKernan, Mark Baguley, David Myers and Josh Begley. Myers has not played in the seniors since round eight.
Essendon will confront a hungry Bulldogs team at Marvel Stadium on Saturday night. The Dogs have included Taylor Durea and Will Hayes, losing Tom Liberatore and Caleb Daniel to injury.
Geelong left out Lachie Henderson and Scott Selwood as they made four changes for Saturday’s clash against North Melbourne.
The GWS forward line will have a different complexion in Canberra on Friday night when the Giants clash with Hawthorn. Jeremy Finlayson and Harry Himmelberg will miss with injury while likely Coleman medallist Cameron comes back alongside Adam Kennedy and Dawson Simpson.
Hawthorn have a debutant, defender Jiath Changkuoth, who was promoted to the senior list on Thursday. Changkuoth, James Cousins and Jonathon Ceglar are in while veteran defender Grant Birchall and ruckman Ben McEvoy miss with injury. Conor Nash has been dropped.
Cox was the only change at injury-ravaged Collingwood, who meet Melbourne at the MCG on Saturday. Former Gold Coast defender Steven May comes back for the Demons with big man Braydon Preuss dropped.
At St Kilda, former Swan Hannebery and Steven were among seven players added to their squad for Sunday’s clash against Fremantle at Marvel Stadium.
The other ins are Jack Newnes, Blake Acres, Ben Paton, Bailey Rice and Sam Rowe, while the outs are injured pair Jade Gresham and Doulton Langlands, along with the omitted Daniel McKenzie.
“Jack has now played three games in VFL so they will be very close.
“We could do it. Sometimes how you manage those two is really critical.
“They are a running team. They are now playing that one tall in the forward line and have that midfield where they can burst and run with Stephen Hill and that type of player they are very dangerous and we will be pretty mindful about picking the right team.”
With Roy Ward
Scott Spits is a sports reporter for The Age