North West’s bid to record their first win over North Coast in Coffs Harbour has received a “massive dent” following the injury loss of gun midfielder Jake Spackman.
It has emerged that Spackman played with a fractured fibula in the Bulldogs’ 27-point, top-of-the-table loss to Inverell last Saturday.
He sustained the injury in Gunnedah’s 173-point away win over Narrabri on June 2. The reigning AFL North West player of the year booted seven goals in the match to take his season tally to 37 in nine games.
“My performance last weekend was affected by the injury, and I had to make a choice for the representative game,” Spackman said. “It would only be selfish if I played the game on one leg, taking a chance away from another player who deserved the chance, and to give the team a better chance of winning the game.”
Spackman is hopeful of being fit for Gunnedah’s next match, against Moree on July 7. He said he was “waiting for a few more results and information” on the injury. “I do believe the 22 guys that have been selected [for North West] will do the region proud and get the job done,” he added.
North West coach Jason Gobbert described the loss of the former QAFL player as a “massive dent in the side”. Gobbert said: “He’s very disappointed … He was holy, solely committed to it [the match]. But he just can’t get there.”
Gobbert said Spackman was “no good” against the Saints last round. After crowing about North West’s increased speed factor for the annual clash against North Coast, Gobbert admitted that Spackman’s loss meant his side was “probably” not as strong as last year’s outfit.
Spackman booted three majors and was named best on ground last year when North West beat North Coast for the first time since 1999 – the score 20.23-143 to 8.6-54.
Troy Hill, of the Saints, has replaced him for this year’s clash.
Despite’s Spackman’s loss, Gobbert is confident North West can break their Coffs Harbour hoodoo. And that confidence stems from the side’s speed.
He said his key speed machines were Kangaroo Matt Hall, Nomad Wulu Hall and Bulldogs duo Ben Maher and Andew George.
It would only be selfish if I played the game on one leg.Jake Spackman
“The boys are pretty keen. We’ve got a very small and fast side,” he said. “That’s where we have always seemed to lack before – we were outrun. We’ve got a very speedy side this year, so hopefully we can compete and get the win.”
Gobbert said North West had two injury concerns – Roos midfielder Nathan Vaisey (quad) and Saints forward Marli Gobbert (ankle). They will be given until Thursday to prove their fitness.
Gobbert said Marli, his son, rolled his ankle playing touch football in Penrith on Wednesday morning.
Saturday’s match will be proceeded by women’s and master's matches. It is the second year the women’s clash will be staged, with North West victorious last year.
Gobbert described as “massive” the progression of the women’s game in the region. “In our club [the Saints], personally, we have more women registered than men,” he said.
North West: David Richards, Mikey Gould, Marli Gobbert, Bryson Shepherdson, Angus Quail, Steve Doran, Luke Raymond, Troy Hill, Ben Ellis, Wulu Hall, Andy Mack, Hayden Chappell, Luke Robinson, Ben Maddern, Andrew George, Darren Pithers, Ben Maher, Nathan Vaisey, Matt Hall, Allister Hillard, Tom Mackey, Kyle Payne.
Emergencies: Beau Coles, Adam Cruikshank, Liam Dunn.