FORMER REDLAND TRIO IMPRESSING WITH THE PIES
Report: JEFF STEPHENSON
FORMER Redland trio Josh Thomas, Adam Oxley and Josh Smith have for the first time all be named in Collingwood’s “extended” team to play Brisbane at the MCG on Saturday night.
At this stage, however, only Thomas and Oxley are assured of playing.
Smith, who has made a solid return to the VFL team since recovering from a hamstring injury has been named as an emergency.
Oxley’s rise is a testament to his patience and his continuing good form in the VFL.
The 26-year-old has not played since round 22, 2016 and has been troubled by a series of injuries since then.
The rookie-listed defender has been among the Pies best players in the VFL and so consistently has he played that selectors had no alternative than to return him to the AFL.
Injuries to key defenders have also helped him to win selection.
Thomas, 26, is the Magpies’ leading goalkicker this year with 32 goals in his 19 matches to have him seated at 12th on the goalkicking list.
North Melbourne’s Ben Brown leads the goalkicking with 54 goals.
Thomas has been an outstanding contributor for Collingwood and he now rates as one of the classiest small forwards in the competition.
He’s also the most accurate – his running tally of 32.9 represents an average of 78 per cent – far and away the best in the AFL.
Smith, 24, has also been working hard to win promotion and is still obviously well and truly in the hearts and minds of selectors.
The three of them have given Collingwood excellent service over the last few years having between them contributed 123 games.
Josh Thomas has played 60 games, Smith 32 and Oxley 31 – and all of them have experienced their share of trials and tribulations.
It will make a fascinating and fantastic story should the three Redlanders run out in the famous black and white jumper together.
Fingers crossed it happens – if not this week – then in the next week or so.
Meanwhile, Redland experiences the longest road trip in the NEAFL this week to play against Northern Territory at Darwin’s TIO Stadium on Saturday night.
Skipper Hayden Bertoli-Simmonds makes a welcome return after injury, while also returning is the experienced Luke O’Sullivan in a team that has seen six changes.
Others back in the line-up are Brisbane Lions Academy pair Jesse Quint and Jai Kennealy and Harrison Kerr and Jai Lyons have both won a recall.
The Bombers defeated NT the last time they played.
Both key forwards in Matt Hammelmann and Jackson Paine have been in outstanding form and with a hard-at-work midfield to issue them with supply the Bombers’ will be confident of racking up their second win of the season.