Dustin Martin is one of the big stars organisers hope will be involved in the bushfire relief match.
Dustin Martin is one of the big stars organisers hope will be involved in the bushfire relief match.

Will Dusty don the Big V?

The AFL's superstar players have been cleared to play in the State of Origin bushfire relief game instead of their own club's practice matches later this month.

Five practice matches have been scheduled on the same weekend as the bushfire fundraiser game on February 28 at Marvel Stadium.

 

Watch every match of the Marsh Community Series AFL pre-season comp LIVE & On-Demand on KAYO. New to Kayo? Get your 14-day free trial & start streaming instantly >

 

But, in the strongest sign yet the State of Origin sides will be almost full strength, the league's stars have been given the green light to put state honours before their club commitments that weekend.

West Coast and Essendon, Fremantle and Carlton, Richmond and Collingwood, Melbourne and North Melbourne and Sydney and GWS Giants all have games between Thursday, February 27 - Sunday, March 1.

Only players who are recovering from injuries and are on managed programs will be required by their clubs to miss the State of Origin match.

Hawthorn's Jaeger O'Meara, who has overcome a nightmare run of knee injuries, is one who could be rested because of his history of knee problems, while Collingwood's Jordan De Goey and Darcy Moore could also take a cautious approach after their soft-tissue struggles last season.

Geelong quartet Joel Selwood (hamstring), Mitch Duncan (shoulder) and Tom Stewart (groin) may also have to sit out.

Melbourne's Max Gawn is certain to be sidelined after straining his medial ligament at training in Maroochydore on Friday, while Sydney's Lance Franklin is also on his way back from minor knee surgery.

 

 

 

 

 

But there are high hopes the two state sides will be stacked with top-line talent following strong support from superstars including Geelong's Patrick Dangerfield and Collingwood's Scott Pendlebury, among others.

While Richmond is yet to finalise its players' status, the club is optimistic dual Norm Smith medallist and premiership superstar Dustin Martin will be available to pull on the Big V.

Western Australian superstars Nat Fyfe (Fremantle) and Patrick Cripps (Carlton), who are the two Brownlow Medal favourites with TAB, are in-line to headline the All-Stars sides.

Greater Western Sydney football manager Jason McCartney said the Giants' players unanimously wanted to play.

Dustin Martin is one of the big stars organisers hope will be involved in the bushfire relief match.
Dustin Martin is one of the big stars organisers hope will be involved in the bushfire relief match.

"What is really clear is that the players are really excited to be involved in this," McCartney said.

"It is something, clearly, which hasn't happened very often, so when the text message went out (to see who was interested), all the guys pretty much said they were really keen.

"And you can tell they are genuinely excited about it.

"So we have told (AFL operations manager) Steve Hocking everyone who was fit to play would be available, pending on how they are going training-wise (and avoiding any mishaps) between now and then.

"But the players picked to play in the State of Origin game will be absolutely allowed to play in that instead of the Marsh Community Series game because it is a great honour and also because the cause is a very important one."

 

 

Scott Pendlebury has thrown his support behind the bushfire relief match.
Scott Pendlebury has thrown his support behind the bushfire relief match.

 

 

Patrick Dangerfield has been a vocal supporter of the all stars match.
Patrick Dangerfield has been a vocal supporter of the all stars match.

Officials from Carlton, Collingwood, Richmond, St Kilda, Hawthorn, GWS, Melbourne and North Melbourne also confirmed their players had approval to skip the practice match if picked to play in the state game.

However, there is intrigue around which players will be picked from clubs, including the Giants, who have a bevy of top-liners, including Coleman medallist Jeremy Cameron and jet midfielders Lachie Whitfield, Stephen Coniglio, Josh Kelly and Toby Greene.

A maximum of three players per club will be allowed to be selected in the match, according to AFL rules.

The two coaches Damien Hardwick (Victoria) and John Longmire (All-Stars) will help select the two sides from a preliminary squad of eight available players per club.

The two sides will be finalised and train together on Wednesday, February 26.

There will be a starting 18 on the field, six players on the interchange and three emergencies.

An AFLW game between Collingwood and Melbourne will take place beforehand from 5.50pm.



UPDATE: Dodgy Gympie highway could be up for big makeover

premium_icon UPDATE: Dodgy Gympie highway could be up for big makeover

Main Roads denies ignoring concerns over Mary Valley Hwy stretch and reveals major...

5 Gympie benders that did not end well

premium_icon 5 Gympie benders that did not end well

From smashing a vending machine with a sledgehammer to dancing in front of police...

Some big Gympie council projects will be wound up this week

premium_icon Some big Gympie council projects will be wound up this week

Hockey grounds, Memorial Park, Rainbow Shores, Rainbow Beach and Albert Park