Cats play safe on Jack Steven's AFL debut

Jason Phelan
Geelong recruit Jack Steven will not debut for the Cats against Hawthorn to focus on training

Jack Steven won't debut for Geelong against Hawthorn, the Cats taking a conservative approach with his return after last month's stabbing incident.

Steven's availability had been a major talking point ahead of the much-anticipated second round of the AFL season following the COVID-19 shutdown.

The former St Kilda star, cleared by the AFL over the incident in which he was hospitalised with a chest wound, missed about a week a half of training while he recovered.

Geelong made three changes for Friday night's clash at GMHBA Stadium, with Brandan Parfitt, Jed Bews and Rhys Stanley included, while the Hawks brought in Blake Hardwick for injured midfielder Jaeger O'Meara.

Port Adelaide's preparation for Saturday night's big Showdown against Adelaide took a hit when vice-captain Ollie Wines was suspended for breachingf coronavirus protocols.

The Power added Charlie Dixon and Riley Bonner, while Bryce Gibbs found himself out of favour at the Crows again, the veteran dropped with Ben Davis and Billy Frampton.

"With 42 players available for selection, disappointment is inevitable," Adelaide footy chief Adam Kelly said.

"This week, Benny, Bryce and Billy would be feeling that but they are not alone.

"There are a number of players who are close to selection and competition for spots is strong."

Tom Doedee makes his return from a long-term knee injury, Ned McHenry will make his AFL debut and Ben Crocker and Ben Keays will play their first games for the club.

Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin has clearly been stewing on his side's opening-round loss in March to West Coast, with seven unforced changes made to that line-up for Saturday's clash with Carlton at the MCG.

Alex Neal-Bullen, Oscar McDonald, Michael Hibberd, Toby Bedford, Jay Lockhart and Mitch Brown were all axed.

Good news story Harley Bennell will join AFL debutants Luke Jackson and Trent Rivers in playing their first games for the Demons, with Nathan Jones, Christian Salem, Jayden Hunt and Joel Smith also in.

Bennell, beset in recent years by calf injuries, will play his first AFL game since 2017.

The Blues welcome back fan favourite Eddie Betts for his first game after a six-year stint at Adelaide, with Harry McKay and ex-Hawk Marc Pittonet also included.

Premiership Hawk Grant Birchall will play his first game for Brisbane when they take on Fremantle on Saturday at the Gabba, with Callum Ah Chee, Ryan Lester and Tom Berry also named.

The Dockers included Brandon Matera, David Mundy and Nathan Wilson, but resisted the temptation to bring back star forward Jesse Hogan after a lengthy mental health break.

Experienced duo Jarrod Harbrow and Pearce Hanley are among six inclusions for Gold Coast for their match against West Coast on Saturday night at Metricon Stadium.

Richmond premiership player Brandon Ellis is out injured for the Suns, while the Eagles have dropped Tom Hickey for Oscar Allen.

Jake Carlisle is on an extended St Kilda squad for Sunday's clash with the Western Bulldogs, who will be without injured former skipper Easton Wood at Marvel Stadium.

Essendon included Cale Hooker and Dyson Heppell in their 26-man squad for Sunday's encounter with Sydney at the SCG, but lost Orazio Fantasia to injury.

Chad Warner and Dylan Stephens are a chance to debut for the Swans, who have dropped Ben Ronke.

Callan Ward and Shane Mumford are the key inclusions for GWS for their match against North Melbourne at Giants Stadium, with Mason Wood among the inclusions for the Roos.