AFL: Melbourne will regain Jake Lever for crucial clash in Brisbane

AFL: Melbourne will regain Jake Lever for crucial clash in Brisbane

AFL: Melbourne will regain Jake Lever for crucial clash in Brisbane

Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin says Jake Lever will be a welcome inclusion against Brisbane next week but insists he was “very proud” of the Demons’ three-point escape on Saturday night.

The Demons’ defense booted five successive goals in the final quarter as North Melbourne cruised to an unlikely victory, but Goodwin said the defensive failure was due to the Roos’ midfielders taking control rather than the efforts of the back six.

The manager was still relieved to have Lever back for Friday night’s crucial game at the Gabba after the star interceptor missed the last four games with a knee injury.

Goodwin said he was also “pretty confident” Christian Salem would be able to take his place against the Lions despite icing his knee on the bench after being ruled out last term.

“Jake Lever will be right to go, he had a pretty big session on Thursday and (Saturday) so I’m very confident he’ll be good next week as well,” Goodwin said.

“(Salem) just had a scrimmage during the week and was still a little ginger, so we took him out of the game. We’re pretty confident he’ll be right to go.”

Goodwin admitted Clayton Oliver was well beaten by Kangaroos tagger Will Phillips but said he was encouraged by Jack Viney’s return to form and a 21-tackle, one-goal performance from Trent Rivers in a role whole middle.

The coach said he’s “certain” opposing teams will continue Oliver for the rest of the season in Christian Petracca’s absence.

“Look it was a tight label. “Phillips did a pretty good job, if you had to say who won the battle, you’d say ‘he won the battle,’” he said.

“He shut Clayton out of the game for most of the night. Clayton has continued to overcome it and will continue to overcome it – Clayton has had a lot of attention for a long time, but the young man has done a good job with it.

“We’ll see what the opposition does, I’m sure they will. I’m sure Clayton will be back in good shape soon.”

Goodwin was full of praise for debutant Kynan Brown, who had only one possession after coming on midway through the final term, but set up what could have been the game-winner when he chased down Nick Larkey on the wing.

“That was brilliant, wasn’t it? That’s what the guys love about him, he’s a great teammate and that’s a big reason I picked him,” Goodwin said after the tackle.

“He’s a competitor, he works really hard on his game and obviously when he got to make that tackle in that moment, you could see the joy and the celebration of his teammates and what it meant.

“He got a pretty special award from us (in the Melbourne rooms). We want to recognize these kinds of acts, and this was an act that we will celebrate, for sure.”

Originally published as AFL 2024: Melbourne set to regain Jake Lever for crucial Brisbane clash