There were rumours that Damien Hardwick may swing late changes prior to the game against North Melbourne last Friday night in Hobart, due to the weather conditions and a few players who were a little sore. However, the selected team went in unchanged...almost. A freak twinge of Dylan Grimes’ somewhat troublesome hamstring put a spanner in the works minutes before the opening bounce and it had something of a flow on affect. Injuries would also befall Steven Morris (knee), Nick Vlastuin (concussion) and Ben Griffiths (ankle). Therefore, Hardwick and the selection committee may be forced to make some changes; if not through injury than sub-standard performance in the previous round.
Whilst Morris will miss the rest of the season with an ACL injury, the news looks possibly better for Grimes, Vlastuin and Griffiths who all face fitness tests prior to squad selection on Thursday evening and eventual team selection on Friday evening. One player that has made his strongest case yet for a senior return though is the often forgotten midfielder, Reece Conca. In his latest VFL game, he racked up 36 disposals, 21 uncontested possessions, five clearances, seven tackles and one goal. He appears to be all but a lock to play against Gold Coast this Sunday afternoon. Two other players pushing for selection are Jacob Townsend, who hasn’t played AFL since Round 5. He had 21 disposals, 12 contested possessions and eight tackles in the VFL loss to Coburg last Sunday. Jayden Short is the other, who may be an slightly left of field option to cover for Morris given he played across half-back in the VFL whereby he had 20 kicks, 11 contested possessions and five marks. Richmond VFL coach Craig McRae believes he played above the level for at least a half and looks ready for a return to AFL duties.
The players more likely to come in for Morris would be either Jason Castagna or Connor Menadue. The former had 11 disposals, six tackles and six contested possessions whereby he played as a forward. Despite his tackles, he looked a little fumbly at times and lost a few contests. The latter meanwhile had 18 disposals, 13 contested possessions, nine tackles and five clearances whereby he contributed and made an impact on the wing in difficult, wet and slogging conditions. Meanwhile if Griffiths doesn’t get up, it might be an opportunity for Liam McBean. He had 18 hit-outs after having an opportunity as second ruck with Ivan Soldo going down with injury (concussion) as well as 13 disposals, five tackles and one goal. It was the first time in weeks he’s played in the ruck and actually showed something and might be a great back-up for presumably Shaun Hampson this Sunday.
The Tigers may choose to reward a rookie instead though – Mabior Chol or Callum Moore. Chol played most of VFL game last Sunday down back where he won or neutralised three-quarters of his contests, thus showing signs he’s capable of playing as a key-back for only the second week in his career. He was shifted forward in the last quarter however, whereby he took a couple of contested marks. Moore played as a forward in the VFL, a bit different for him and whilst he had moments, McRae is looking for more. Another option is for first-year forward Oleg Markov to make his senior debut, having been an emergency for the AFL a number of times in recent weeks.
Who makes your best 22 for Sunday afternoon against the Suns?