North Wagga may not make a call on Ned Mortimer’s injured knee until as late as possible on game day with the captain desperate to play in Saturday’s preliminary final against Temora.
The Saints on Thursday night left out second ruckman Dave Karlberg, who’s been battling calf problems, while Temora didn’t name midfielder Tim McAuley, after his troublesome shoulder pulled up sore following a long-awaited return for the Kangaroos last Sunday.
But Mortimer remains hopeful of leading his team into battle in their bid for the club’s first grand final appearance since 2004.
“It’s coming good,” Mortimer said. “I’m just going to give it every chance. I reckon I’m 90 percent chance of playing but I’ll give it a good blowout before the game and if it holds up to that I’m sure I’ll be right.
“But the last thing I want to do is go out there and be a passenger if it is a bit sore.”
North Wagga have beaten Temora three times this year including a 10-goal finals win two weeks ago but Mortimer said sitting out this week and hoping for the right result hasn't entered his head.
“At this time of year you can’t really afford to assume anything would happen,” he said. “Last time we played Temora, we played really, really well to get that result. I don’t think they’re going to play how they did two weeks ago.
“I know they’re a good team and I’d be so filthy if I didn’t play and we got done.”
Mortimer has avoided going for scans on his knee.
“I’ve made a decision not to look at it until the end of the year. I know it’s probably a silly thing to do but if it’s diagnosed and gets in my head, then you start thinking about it. So I’m trusting my own judgement of my body… but the last thing I want to do is be selfish and say I’m right and then it goes. So we’ll give it a good test-out.”
With North Wagga’s reserve grade already qualified for the grand final and having Saturday off, the Saints have a little more flexibility in leaving the call until late, with someone on standby to replace the backman in the final.
“I probably would’ve had to commit earlier with a decision if we did have twos playing because I wouldn’t want to stuff up someone else’s preparation as well,” Mortimer said.
He hyper-extended the knee 10 minutes into the final quarter last week, just as the Bombers were launching their comeback at Maher Oval.
“Marrar, they just scrap – you just don’t have that time around the contest to make a good decision with the footy because their pressure’s so good,” Mortimer said.
But he said the thought of meeting them again isn’t on anyone’s mind yet, reiterating what’s driving him to do all he can to take the field against the Kangaroos on Saturday.
“It took a lot of things to go right for us against Temora last time,” Mortimer said. “I think they’re a lot better than what people are saying and I’m nervous about Temora, especially in finals. Anything can happen.”