RICHMOND coach Damien Hardwick will continue to back his AFL side’s famed pressure and surge brand of football against Greater Western Sydney on Saturday night in the face of a mounting injury toll.
The Tigers are reeling from a 63-point hammering by Geelong in round eight and have tackled off-field distractions in recent days, with star duo Shai Bolton and Daniel Rioli involved in a nightclub scuffle that left both nursing injuries.
Rioli (black eye) will play against the Giants at Marvel Stadium, but Bolton (broken wrist) has been added to the reigning premiers’ long list of absentees.
Dion Prestia, Kane Lambert, Shane Edwards and captain Trent Cotchin are also missing from a depleted midfield that was out-muscled by the Cats in the Tigers’ heaviest defeat of the season.
“If you don’t get your hands on the ball you’re defending for a hell of a long time and you’re always going to get beaten up on the scoreboard,” Hardwick said.
“Sometimes you can hurt your own system with the way you use the ball and the way you move the ball forward, but we’ll always continue to back-in the way we play because we know it holds us in good stead.
“When the whips are cracking we know we’re thereabouts and our very best footy is really, really hard to beat.”
Hugo Ralphsmith will debut for Richmond against GWS and Hardwick expects a fierce response from the likes of second-tier midfielders Jack Graham, Marlion Pickett and Riley Collier-Dawkins.
The Giants are also nursing a raft of injuries but have on-ballers Callan Ward, Josh Kelly, Jacob Hopper, Tim Taranto and Tom Green in good form, and have won four of their last five games to surge into top-eight contention.
“It’s two pretty good sides that are going in a little bit underdone with regard to their overall talent,” Hardwick said.
“But they’re two pretty good sides that are playing some good footy when they are allowed to play their own way.”
Richmond chief executive Brendon Gale has expressed his frustration at being forced to play a home game away from the MCG, saying this week it will cost the club “hundreds of thousands of dollars”.
But Hardwick doesn’t see it as a major issue for his team.
“The game’s at Marvel Stadium and we’re happy to play anytime, anywhere,” Hardwick said.
“From a fans’ perspective, I’ve got no doubt they’d love to be at the ‘G, but we’ll take what the AFL gives us.”
(C) AAP 2021