Selected: Liam Jurrah. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo
LIAM Jurrah's calm demeanour in the face of unimaginable off-field turmoil has long surprised Melbourne officials, but it was the unexpected speed of his readiness to resume his AFL career that has earned him a welcome return to senior football.
Jurrah was last night picked to celebrate the indigenous round by playing against Sydney at the SCG tomorrow, a much-needed fillip after a committal hearing earlier in the day resulted in four additional assault charges being laid against him for his alleged part in a brawl in Alice Springs in March. Jurrah will now face six charges at a three-day oral examination hearing on July 23.
He will be joined in a Demons team still searching for its first win by former captain Brad Green and bedevilled No. 1 draft pick Jack Watts, with the big-name trio rewarded for strong performances for Casey in the VFL.
Sam Blease also comes in, while Ricky Petterd, Matthew Bate, Rohan Bail and Jack Fitzpatrick have been dropped.
The Demons remain confident Jurrah will be acquitted, and were yesterday successful in having his bail conditions amended to allow him to play in the round 17 game against Port Adelaide in Darwin on July 21 should he hold his place in the team.
''What occurred today wasn't unexpected. We understood that was how it was going to play out,'' club chief executive Cameron Schwab said last night. ''The club will continue to very strongly support Liam through this process.''
The Demons have been surprised by Jurrah's readiness for an AFL return after only two runs in the VFL, with some at the club having suspected it would be at least a month before he reached AFL-level fitness.
He played against Geelong in the VFL 13 days ago, and the clean ball-handling and use that have marked his 35 games was evident from his first touch in wet conditions.
His game time and intensity increased against Box Hill last Saturday, when he had 13 possessions and his strong tackling indicated he had fully recovered from the wrist injury that, combined with his off-field dramas, delayed his start to 2012.
Officials have been pleased with how quickly he has attained match fitness, and his recovery after the two outings with the Scorpions.