MFL preview wrap - round 17

By Jamie Lowe

Reigning club best and fairest Todd Gallagher is set to make a shock return when the Deni Rams host ladder leader Nathalia tomorrow. In what was already a big day for the club, with the 200 club draw, annual raffle and Wellways footy day, Gallagher will line-up for the Rams for the first time in 10 weeks. The onballer has been out with what was believed to be a season-ending knee injury, suffered in the side’s round nine clash against Tongala. But with two games left for the year Gallagher has made a miraculous return and Rams co-coach Sam Hall said it would be a big boost for his side. ‘‘I think all our boys walk a bit taller when Gags (Gallagher) is out there,’’ he said. ‘‘In saying that, he has been out for a while now, so there isn’t too much expectation on him. ‘‘We’re all just excited to have him back out there. ‘‘We’ll also have Jonty (Tubb) and Pepsi (Adrian Pappin) back in after serving their suspensions.’’

The Rams have confirmed two outs for the game, with Scott Atley suffering a hand injury and co-coach Troy Bartlett finishing his stint to help out with numbers. Despite the inclusions, the Rams will be heavy underdogs heading into the clash, with the Purples continuing to be the dominant team of the competition in their hunt for a record-breaking fifth flag in a row. ‘‘We’re pretty excited for the challenge,’’ Hall said. ‘‘It’s a chance for us to test ourselves against the best side in the competition. ‘‘It’ll be good to see how the younger blokes fare against them.’’

It is an important day for the Rams, with the club hosting the Wellways ‘Thought. Talk. Tackle’ footy day, as part of Wellways’ mental health and suicide awareness campaign. Rams president Clint Free said it was an important message for the club to support. ‘‘We’re excited to be able to host this day,’’ he said. ‘‘Mental health wellbeing is such an important message, so when Wellways approached us we were quite happy to host this event. ‘‘It should be a big day at the club, being our final home game and raffle draw, so that should hopefully mean that plenty of people check out the Wellways tent.’’

The annual raffle is the Rams’ major fundraiser and will be drawn between 6 pm and 6.30 pm. Prizes include a boat and motor from Deni Yamaha (boat and motor), a Betta Home Living and Deni Outdoors and Camping package (swags, camp cooking and fishing gear), and two tickets to the Deni Ute Muster. • Other clashes across the league today sees Congupna hosting Katandra, Tungamah travelling to take on Rumbalara and Moama tackling Barooga. Numurkah and Mulwala will put top four hopes on the line when the side’s clash at the Numurkah Showgrounds, while fixtures between Cobram and Finley and Tongala and Echuca United complete the scheduled action.