Melbourne make shock call for blockbuster AFL opener against Sydney Swans at the SCG

Melbourne have made the surprise call to pick former No.2 draft pick Josh Schache for the AFL’s blockbuster season-opener on Thursday night at the SCG.

Schache is in the team to help patch up an undermanned forward line that is missing Harrison Petty, Kysaiah Pickett, Ben Brown and Jake Melksham. Charlie Spargo has also be named despite battling an Achilles issue during the summer.

Check out the the full teams for the Swans v Demons clash below.

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Schache — who joined Melbourne at the end of 2022 after stints at the Western Bulldogs and Brisbane — takes his place in the team ahead of veteran swingman Tom McDonald, who has been named as an emergency.

Melbourne confirmed two days ago that superstar midfielder Clayton Oliver would take his place in the side despite his well-documented troubles over the past few months.

Joining Oliver in the Opening Round clash, will be former St Kilda gun Jack Billings, and No.7 draft pick Caleb Windsor.

Clayton Oliver will have plenty to prove when he runs out on the SCG on Thursday night. Credit: Getty Images

Windsor will be making his AFL debut, as will young winger Blake Howes, who has also be named in Melbourne’s team.

Meanwhile, two former Melbourne players are set to take on their old teammates with the Sydney Swans naming recruits James Jordon and Brodie Grundy.

The Swans are already without three of their most experienced midfielders in Luke Parker (arm), Callum Mills (shoulder) and Taylor Adams (knee), so Jordon’s inclusion is important.

The 23-year-old has played 65 AFL games since his debut in 2021 and enjoyed a sizzling pre-season for his new club, which included a 31-disposal practice game against the Brisbane Lions.

The Swans have also named emerging superstar Chad Warner, dynamic small forward Tom Papley, and veteran defender Jake Lloyd.

That trio were absent for their team’s practice match against Brisbane last week.

While Melbourne fans might be hoping Grundy will be quiet for the game, Dees captain Max Gawn believes the new Sydney ruck will have his moments.

Asked whether he believes Grundy will have an axe to grind at their reunion, Gawn was candid.

“I presume he will,” Gawn said on Wednesday.

“Anyone who’s gone out of two teams now and found a new place and won a chance to play (the) first game of the year against your old team, I feel like that might be a bit of the thought process going into the game.

“But he doesn’t need to prove anything to me and I dare say he doesn’t need to prove a thing to his teammates or the AFL community. He seems happy.”

Recruited by Melbourne to work in tandem with Gawn, Grundy was ultimately dropped and missed out on a finals appearance last year after the Dees found they functioned better with Gawn as the sole ruckman.

Still, the Melbourne skipper expects a tough battle ahead when he goes head-to-head with his former teammate.

“There might be a stalemate in the end because we know each other’s strengths and weaknesses quite well,” Gawn said.

“I’m sure there’s going to be moments where we’re going to see Brodie at his best and hopefully, they’re just moments.

“I wouldn’t mind him being best-on-ground but us winning by 20 or 30 points.”

Sydney v Melbourne at the SCG, 7.30pm AEDT


B: L.Melican 43 T.McCartin 30 D.Rampe – C 24

HB:: N.Blakey 22 O.Florent 13 J.Lloyd 44

C: J.McInerney 27 Ch.Warner 1 E.Gulden 21

HF: I.Heeney 5 L.McDonald 6 J.Amartey 36

F: T.Papley 11 H.McLean 2 W.Hayward 9

Foll: B.Grundy 4 J.Jordon 17 J.Rowbottom 8

I/C: B.Campbell 16 M.Roberts 34 H.Cunningham 7 S.Wicks 15 R.Fox 42

Emerg: A.Sheldrick 12 P.Ladhams 19 Co.Warner 37

New faces: James Jordon, Brodie Grundy

Missing: Callum Mills, Luke Parker, Taylor Adams


B: B.Howes 22, S.May 1, J.Lever 8

HB: J.McVee 4, A.Tomlinson 20, C.Salem 3

C: E.Langdon 15, C.Petracca 5, T.Rivers 24

HF: J.Viney 7, J.Schache 19, J.van Rooyen 2

F: A.Neal-Bullen 30, B.Fritsch 31, C.Spargo 9

Foll: M.Gawn 11, T.Sparrow 32, C.Oliver 13

I/C: C.Windsor 6, J.Billings 14, B.Laurie 16, J.Bowey 17, K.Chandler 37

Emerg: T.McDonald 25, T.Fullarton 33, T.Woewodin 40

New faces: Caleb Windsor, Jack Billings, Blake Howes

Notable absentees: Lachie Hunter, Shane McAdam, Harrison Petty, Jake Melksham, Kysaiah Pickett

– With AAP

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