That opening partnership would be some combination of Warner, Pucovski and Harris, with current number five Travis Head possibly being dropped.
The third Test will start at the SCG as scheduled on January 7, but COVID-19 protocols mean the squad will fly into Sydney later than usual and only be allowed out of quarantine to train and play the match.
Players will train in Melbourne on January 2 and 3 before travelling to Sydney on January 4.
Joe Burns and Marcus Harris have failed to impress with the bat in their final hit-out before the first Test against India, both being dismissed cheaply in Australia A’s second innings against the tourists at the SCG.
Joe Burns scored a duck and 1 for Australia A against India
Marcus Harris made 5 following his recall to the Test squad
Mitchell Starc is rejoining the Australia squad after taking compassionate leave
But in positive news for Australia four days out from the Adelaide day-night Test, the home side will welcome back fast bowler Mitchell Starc who was granted compassionate leave last week.
Burns, who opened the batting in every Test for Australia last domestic season, was out for 1 on the final day of the pink-ball tour match in Sydney.
He was dismissed for a duck in the first innings on Friday.
But Richmond was better equipped to cope, with highly credentialled key defenders Dylan Grimes and David Astbury able to adequately fill the void.
The Tigers started the season poorly, but ultimately had plenty of time for their side to gel despite the absence of a crucial player.
Brisbane hasn’t the luxury of time or personnel.
Darcy Gardiner has become a dependable player who, like Grimes, is highly versatile with a knack for guarding tall and small forwards, and Brandon Starcevich is an increasingly valuable addition to the Lions’ defence.
But Andrews is the leader.
Arnell reckons Andrews’ absence will lead to a permanent positional switch for McStay.
“My gut feel is that you leave McStay as that key defender because he’s not having that offensive impact at the other end as their tall forward,” Arnell said.
Lions’ forward line needs to find spark
While Brisbane has performed impressively this season with 11 wins and only three losses, there were already question marks over its capacity to go all the way.
The absence of Andrews has created a huge backline problem, but the Lions’ forward line has also been an ongoing area of concern.
McStay is part of the problem as one of several players plagued by a lack of confidence in front of goal.
Only 22 years old, Eric Hipwood shows glimpses of the attributes possessed by champion players, but he too is a completely undependable set-shot kick.
In modern football, each team will typically have periods of momentum within a match but poor conversion stifles that momentum and affects team confidence.
Against good sides, you simply must take your chances.
The Lions have kicked more goals than behinds in only five of 14 matches this season.
Perusal of their scores makes for some cringeworthy reading: 10 goals and 23 behinds against Adelaide in round four, 4.17 against Richmond in round 10 and 6.14 against St Kilda in round 13.
There is also the worrying lack of form of livewire forward Charlie Cameron, who has managed only two majors in his last five matches.
Cameron hurt his knee during the round 11 clash with the Bulldogs, but didn’t miss a match as a result of the injury.
Lions coach Chris Fagan has declared him fully fit.
A crowd favourite, the number 23’s work rate has dropped along with his output and confidence.
The revs are down.
For Brisbane to progress far enough in the finals for its star fullback to return, Cameron must rediscover the electric form that led to a career-best 57 goals last season.
Last week, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk was part of an announcement that should have strengthened the Lions’ premiership ambitions — a Gabba grand final.
By Sunday, as the Andrews news came through — much like Victorians in lockdown — Brisbane and its fans had to grapple with the uncertain road ahead.
“Surely I couldn’t get another American celebrity to shout out Australia’s most notorious sexual predator – bonus points if they mention UK’s most notorious sexual predator,” Mr Armstrong said in the clip, before the footage switches over to Baskin.
“Hey all you cool cats and kittens, it’s Carole Baskin at Big Cat Rescue,” she says on film.
“Hi Rolf Harris – all your kids wanted to get together and tell you that you have really touched them and that they love all that you have done for them.
“I hear there’s a lot of great stories about you and your best friend, Jimmy Saville – can’t wait to hear those.
“Happy birthday Rolf.”
Rolf Harris was one of Australia’s most successful entertainers before being sentenced to five years and nine months behind bars in June 2014 for a dozen indecent assaults against four teenage girls between 1968 and 1986.
Jimmy Saville was a hugely successful BBC personality for decades – but after his death in 2011, hundreds of allegations of sexual abuse were made against him.
Last week, Armstrong pulled a similar prank on Mitchell, who was seemingly unaware of Ivan Milat’s crimes.
“Hey Ivan! Not many people pick up hitchhikers anymore, but you really helped out the backpacker gang and you belong in 7th Heaven. So thank you, we need more people in the world like you Ivan … Milat, I hope I’m saying that right,” she said in the clip
“Sending you lots of love and thank you again for being such a big fan and for just being awesome and being you.”
That joke divided opinions, with many people finding it hilarious while others questioned whether it was too disturbing.
AFLW star and professional boxer Tayla Harris and her parents have opened up about the online abuse and physical threats she received over a photo of her kicking a goal.
Tayla Harris says some of the comments about her on social media made her “feel physically sick”
Her father Warren Harris says he wanted to “find these people and explain why they shouldn’t be talking to my daughter in this way”
Harris says she is speaking out to help keep women in sport
The photo showing Harris kicking the opening goal against the Western Bulldogs in a game last year was swamped by abusive and sexist comments after it was posted on the Seven Network’s social media accounts.
“Some of the comments made me feel physically sick. They are disgusting as your wildest imagination,” Harris told 7.30.
Her father Warren Harris said he found the physical threats made against his daughter “really hard”.
“I’m not a big social media type of person, so I didn’t find out how bad it got until later on. Lisa [Harris’s mother] saw a lot more of it than I did,” he said.
“To find out you’ve got people saying threatening things to your daughter and threatening to turn up on the field and do this and that, you just want to — she handled it a lot better than I would have.
“My natural thought process was to find these people and explain why they shouldn’t be talking to my daughter in this way.
“Lisa will tell you it hurt her a lot because she takes those things deeper than I do.”
Harris’s parents were at the game at Whitten Oval in Melbourne’s inner west the day the photo was taken.
“As we got off the plane in Brisbane that’s when all the messages started to come through,” Lisa Harris said.
“I knew how bad it was. We couldn’t get back there for another few days and it was awful.”
‘Why I took a stand’
Harris said she spoke out publicly in the media about the incident to help keep women in sport.
“It was an overdue conversation that needed to happen,” she said.
“Does that affect the uptake of footy at a young age? Does a girl not want to play AFLW because they don’t want to deal with that?
“There’s people in these photos of the commenters, that are making these comments, with young girls, or wives, or girlfriends or sisters and you wonder what’s happening behind the scenes.
“That’s why I took a stand against it.
“I didn’t think I needed to stand up for myself. I felt like I needed to stand up for a whole bigger issue.
“I refuse to believe it can’t get better and that people can’t become more civil, and nice to each other.”
Harris has written a book about her experience called More Than A Kick.
She hoped it would be “a resource for teenagers to relate to me and my scenario and there’s some advice if you’re facing bullying or harassment online”.
“The one thing I want to look back at the end of my career isn’t if I kicked the most goals, or took a good mark, it’s that I was able to make a positive impact on people,” she said.
Warren Harris said his daughter was not worried about fame or fortune.
“She’d give all that away to think she helped someone else,” he said.
‘Life isn’t going to go your way all the time’
Harris’s kick has now been immortalised in bronze.
Warren Harris said “the whole statue thing was very tricky” for his daughter.
“People didn’t quite understand at that stage the statue wasn’t put up because of her sporting ability or her football or her anything else,” he said.
“That was put up so people could say at that point in time someone took a stand against these people online bullying other people and potentially pushing those people to suicide.”
Harris said she credits a lot of her success to her mother and father.
“They brought me up to understand life isn’t going to go your way all the time,” she said.
“They would drive me to every single training session, pay for all the footy teams I was in, uniforms.
“I’m sure they would say any parent would do it but any parent wouldn’t do it. A lot of parents aren’t willing to invest that much in their kids.”
Harris would have played in the finals earlier this year but the 2020 AFLW season ending prematurely due to coronavirus.
“We’ll adapt,” she said.
“After coronavirus everything will get affected. Literally everything in the world is going to have an impact in some way.
“In terms of sport, AFL and AFLW and grassroots and local footy are all going to get affected. In terms of funding, everything will take a hit.”