Roos unlikely to punt on Thompson
6:50 PM Tue 28 August, 2007
By Adam Cooper
THE Kangaroos appear unlikely to punt on forward Nathan Thompson making a surprise return for the finals after knee surgery this year.
Despite coach Dean Laidley admitting last weekend he might be tempted to recall Thompson either this week against the Western Bulldogs or for the first week of the finals, the big forward still appeared short of satisfying all requirements.
In a further worry for the Roos, midfielder Daniel Wells sent a scare through the side when he got up gingerly nursing a knee in a tackling drill, having missed five games in the middle of the season with a knee strain.
Thompson, who has not played all season after injuring his knee in a pre-season game, trained but did not participate in contact work and wore a green guernsey to differentiate him from his teammates.
Teammate Drew Petrie, who has been a surprise packet in the Kangaroos' forward line this season in Thompson's absence, said the veteran would provide the Roos with a huge boost if he was to return, although the club would not take any risks.
"He's an outside chance, he's got to tick a few boxes off yet, but nevertheless he'll be in with a shot," Petrie said.
"(Thompson playing) would be great, it would give us another focal point up forward and he's a big-game player."
Defender Josh Gibson appears a more realistic chance of returning either against the Bulldogs after overcoming his head injury.
Gibson suffered bleeding on the brain when he slipped in his bathroom and hit his head during the middle of the season, but he made a strong return to football with the Kangaroos' VFL affiliate Tasmania last Saturday.
Gibson could replace fellow defender Michael Firrito, who is being considered for rest this Sunday after suffering heel soreness during the win over Carlton last Saturday.
Forward Aaron Edwards, who suffered a bad case of cramp after booting four goals against the Blues, will be tested later this week.
The Kangaroos must beat the Bulldogs and hope Sydney beat fourth-placed Hawthorn to cap an excellent season by climbing into the top four and earning the double chance.
Petrie admitted he would also be cheering on the Swans, but said the Kangaroos had to focus on not letting the Bulldogs post what would be a big upset.
"From here on it's up to us how far we take it," he said.
"We've just got to worry about winning against the Bulldogs this weekend and I'm sure they'll be keen to perform well for Luke Darcy, who's retiring, so it will be definitely on."
The Kangaroos have been one of the great successes in 2007 after being tipped as a likely wooden spooner before the season began, but are clearly not content just with making up the numbers in September, having last won a final in 2000.
"We just wanted to earn respect back and I think we have a little bit, but we've got a way to go and I reckon to earn more respect back would be to win a final," he said.