WANGARATTA has made a potentially match-winning inclusion for Sunday’s Ovens and Murray preliminary final, with Josh Porter a confirmed starter.
The high marking forward arrives tomorrow morning and will be a timely boost for the Magpies, who are just one win away from playing in a grand final.
Porter will play at least the preliminary final, but will be also be available for the grand final should the Magpies win on Sunday.
Porter has been keeping fit in between his studies at East Carolina University, but has not kicked a football since his last game for the Magpies on July 16 against Wangaratta Rovers, and Sunday’s match will be his first in 63 days.
The 196cm former VFL-listed key forward booted 20 goals in 11 games for Wangaratta, scoring at least a goal in each of those games, with his leading patterns and marking ability contributing directly to the Magpies’ strong early season form.
Wangaratta coach Dean Stone said the decision to bring Porter back was not made lightly.
“We set about this plan months ago; before he even left,” Stone said.
“But it wasn’t until we knew we were playing in a preliminary final and where we were at from a playing list perspective that we made the call.
“It wasn’t until Sunday morning that travel arrangements were organised.”
Stone said the inclusion of Porter won’t be the difference in winning but he does provide something that the Magpies are after.
“Players that are six foot five with the talent he has don’t come around very often,” Stone said.
“He has trained every day he has been over there at a state-of-the-art stadium down the road from where he lives.
“We are mindful of his match fitness but his ability to impact the game is huge.
“He certainly won’t be the difference but he provides that extra bit of grunt around the ground and his contribution along with 20 other players will certainly put us in a strong position to win.”