Contenders suddenly have big holes to fill

Nic Naitanui limbs from Domain Stadium in Perth.
Nic Naitanui limbs from Domain Stadium in Perth.

Jack Fitzpatrick and Jonathan Giles come on down.

It's fair to say the two big men have been sparingly used at the top level throughout their careers.

Giles has played 56 games since first drafted by Port Adelaide way, way back in 2005.

He didn't play a senior game in four seasons with the Power.

And after finally debuting and eventually playing 51 with GWS (2012-14), the journeyman has only been able to add a further three with Essendon (2015) and two with West Coast (2016).

Fitzpatrick hasn't been in the system quite as long, but he has struggled even more to get a look in on the big stage, playing 22 senior games in seven years at Melbourne after first being drafted in 2009.

He's yet to debut for Hawthorn after being picked up by the reigning premiers at the end of 2015 as a delisted free agent.

That said, the pair could suddenly find themselves invaluable to the premiership campaigns of the Eagles and Hawks, respectively.

Nic Naitanui and Jonathan Cegler both suffering ACL injuries in their team's clash last Friday night has opened the door. Both will need reconstructions, meaning 12 months on the sidelines.

Respective coaches Adam Simpson and Alastair Clarkson meanwhile hope their absence doesn't shut the door on their flag bids.

Determined to maintain the rage after the dismantling of Hawthorn pushed their name back into premiership calculations, the Eagles may look for a variety of ruck combinations involving Scott Lycett.

Jeremy McGovern and Jack Darling can pinch-hit, but their form at either ends of the ground have been superb and surely they remain there full-time.

As a possible nod to his senior return for the blockbuster against Adelaide this Friday night, Giles was withdrawn from East Perth's WAFL game on the weekend.

Fitzpatrick, meanwhile, has made a timely return in the VFL after a six-week absence due to concussion and his ability to take a grab in front of goal must have him ahead of young Mark Pittonet.

While Ben 'Big Boy' McEvoy remains a rock-solid option for No.1 rucking duties, the Hawks love the two-pronged setup they pioneered when David Hale was playing.

Particularly when Kurt Tippett, who returned at the weekend, and Sam Naismith (Sydney), Sam Jacobs and Josh Jenkins (Adelaide), Shane Mumford and Rory Lobb (GWS) and Zac Smith and Rhys Stanley (Geelong) make-up formidable combinations to contend with during September.

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