Giants promise Folau will be there to ward off the Dogs
Greater Western Sydney co-captain, Phil Davis. Photo: Graham Tidy
Two things are certain ahead of this weekend's AFL fixture at Manuka Oval - Israel Folau will play and GWS Giants co-captain Callan Ward won't be greeted by hugs from his former Western Bulldogs teammates, nor their fans.
Phil Davis, one of the Giants' three co-captains, experienced playing against his former team, Adelaide, last weekend, and will have words with Ward about what he can expect on Saturday.
''He thinks they'll give him hugs and that - he thinks he's one of the most loved men at the Bulldogs, but we'll have a chat about it later in the week and I can pass on some of my experiences,'' Davis said.
Davis, who was born in Canberra, expects to get a more positive crowd reaction than the boos he received at AAMI Stadium, with his family and friends set to make up a decent chunk of the Manuka crowd.
The key defender stayed with his grandmother when he came to the capital for media appearances yesterday, and has more family recruited for the first of three Giants games to be played at Manuka this year.
''I've got two sets of family, two uncles and their families who live in Canberra … I think a few relatives from Sydney are going to drive down as well, so I should have 20 or 30 people here which should be nice,'' Davis said.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard will also be in the crowd for the game, the inaugural Prime Minister's Cup, but as the No.1 ticket holder for the Bulldogs, she might be one of the fans who Ward needs to be wary of.
Meanwhile, Giants coach Kevin Sheedy, has confirmed that Folau will make the trip.
''We won't be dropping him until we think he might be tired or jaded,'' Sheedy said.
''But I wouldn't have thought he'd have hit the Richter scale of being tired at the moment because he's been on and off the ground.''
With such an incredibly youthful side, Sheedy will be forced to rotate his raw charges in and out of the team throughout the season.
''It's always been a bit awkward and we want to get through [most of the squad],'' Sheedy said.
''I'd like to nearly play at least 35 possible players this year - at least. Blood them, get them in and give them X number of games so that they feel they actually deserve to be out there and won't be pushed around.''
■ IN A BLOW for local AFL fans, Gary Ablett is in doubt for the Canberra match between the Gold Coast Suns and the Giants next month.
Scans yesterday revealed the Suns' captain had minor damage and bone bruising to his knee. The 2009 Brownlow medallist confirmed via Twitter that doctors said the injury would rule him out for up to three weeks. ''Great result nothing serious, doc thinks 2-3 weeks but I'm confident I can get back earlier! Thanks for your support!,'' Ablett tweeted.
He joins an injury list that also includes David Swallow (hip) and Jarrod Harbrow (elbow).
The Suns will play in Canberra on May 12.