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Giants ready to take on Suns in 'battle of babies'

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Fleta Page

Sun's Gary Ablett in action.

Sun's Gary Ablett in action. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo

Everyone wants to see Gary Ablett play at Manuka Oval this Saturday, even the man who will need to find a way to stop the Brownlow medallist.

''We're happy that Gary Ablett and the boys are coming to Canberra to play,'' GWS coach Kevin Sheedy said yesterday.

''That's enough to pack out Canberra - to see top players of his calibre come along.''

Club gate earnings aside, Sheedy will face a tough problem if Ablett does makes the trip.

''We're going to have to find a player to play on him and beat him, and I think we'll do that.''

''We've lost our players in the tall capacity but we haven't lost any players in the running division where Gary and [Michael] Rischitelli play, so we'll be at our best there.''

Ablett (knee) and fellow midfielder Rischitelli (ankle) looked likely to miss this weekend's game with their injuries, but both pulled up well after a running session on Monday, and will train today with their Gold Coast Suns teammates in a bid for selection.

''We'll have more of an idea after that session,'' Suns football operations manager Marcus Ashcroft said. ''We're hopeful they'll both be available but we still need to see them do some training in our main session, because they haven't played for a couple of weeks.''

Despite the young Suns team entering the contest as favourites for the first time ever against the even younger Giants, Ashcroft says their opponents won't factor in selection decisions.

''Opposition doesn't come into it, it's more whether players are 100 per cent fit to play.''

''We don't want to put any of our players in jeopardy by rushing them back earlier than they need to be, especially with Gary and 'Rischi' who are leaders of our footy club.''

Both teams are winless leading into the clash between the two ''babies'' of the competition, as Sheedy called them, but the Giants will benefit from both a pre-season win over their rivals and a home-ground advantage.

''We're in the pram and probably the Gold Coast Suns are going to push it,'' Sheedy said. ''The two youngest clubs in AFL history are going to be playing in Canberra. It's going to be a magnificent game and we're about due to win. We're going after the Gold Coast Suns.

''… [But] they're a year ahead of us. They've probably got about 30 games up, we've got six.''

For the Suns the game will be the first time for many of them to set foot on to Manuka Oval, with the team training at home on Friday morning before flying into Canberra for the game.

The Giants have confirmed Dean Brogan would not need surgery on an injury to his right elbow tendon but expect he will miss four to six weeks. Setanta O'hAilpin will undergo a traditional knee reconstruction on his ruptured ACL.

The pair will be forced omissions from the side that lost to Carlton by 67 points, with rookie-listed ruckman Andrew Phillips likely to debut and Israel Folau (virus) set to return.

Folau is unlikely to line up on fellow rugby league convert Karmichael Hunt, who has showed much promise in the midfield this season.

While Folau's transition to the code is more of a work in progress at this stage, Sheedy suggested his former NRL teammate was a shining example of what's possible.

''It was Izzy's best game last match [against Western Bulldogs] before he hit his head on the ground,'' he said.

''But Karmichael Hunt's just been unbelievable for the Gold Coast.

''If you're thinking about shutting Gary Ablett down - well, we might need to shut him [Hunt] down. To stop him getting the ball to Ablett. That's where it's getting to at the moment.'' with AAP

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