Clubs can apply to the AFL to place players on the long-term injury list to create a vacant spot but, if they return for selection, must be replaced by another long-term injured player.
Fremantle’s ruck stocks are healthy, with Sandilands this year mentoring the likes of Scott Jones, Lloyd Meek and Sean Darcy, who is considered the club’s long-term no.1 ruckman but has been kept out of the starting 22 after the strong form of ex-Giant and new recruit Rory Lobb and could be traded at season’s end.
Fremantle has surprised the competition with four wins from six games and a finals appearance could hinge on their next five weeks, with tough assignments in Adelaide this Sunday, Richmond (home), Essendon, Brisbane (home) and Collingwood before the bye.
Sandilands is a dual club best and fairest and four-time All Australian who wins a remarkable 73 per cent of hitouts and could prove pivotal if Fremantle finish top eight this season.
His extensive experience and ruck tap nous in tandem with the athletic Lobb is a mesmerising prospect for coach Ross Lyon and Fremantle’s on-ball brigade led by Nathan Fyfe and David Mundy.
Either way, the veteran of 17 seasons will retire at season’s end and likely be joined by enigmatic small forward Hayden Ballantyne (hamstring), who has also battled injuries in recent seasons, Shane Kersten (foot) and Harley Bennell, whose calf issues continue to hamper a senior return.