Coach Damien Hardwick opts not to risk goal-sneak really in the AFL season.
The Richmond Tigers have given small forward Jake King at least another week to recover from toe and shoulder injuries which required surgery in the off-season.
King was a notable absence from the side named to play the Gold Coast Suns at Metricon Stadium on Saturday night in their first game of the new AFL season.
Despite training with the team at Punt Road, King admitted that if he was picked to take on the Suns that he would have been short of a run, and might hold back his teammates.
Hardwick said while the side will miss King this weekend, he added that once he proves his fitness there will be a spot in the forward line for him.
“We know how important he is to the side, he knows how important he is to the side also,” Hardwick said.
“So it will be a tough decision this afternoon because we’ve got some good players who are going to miss out.
“It’s a great place for our club to be in. Players who are very capable AFL players are going to fall short.”
The Tigers have shown mixed form during the NAB Cup, and Hardwick said his team will bounce back after losing to Melbourne in the first game of the pre-season tournament.
“I think we have improved as a side, you have only got to look at our pre-season form,” he said.
“Obviously really disappointing with our intensity and work rate with the Round 1 NAB Cup game, but our last two games have been more along the lines of a Richmond we’d expect.
“The improvement has been noted in players, like (Ben) Griffiths has been very good, (David) Astbury has had a great pre-season, young Matthew McDonough is another guy. We just have to weigh up the guys who are actually going to get the job done versus Gold Coast. We have to make sure we’re fit and ready to go and we have to make sure we pick the best team that is capable of getting the points for us.”
When asked who will get the job of marking Gary Ablett, Hardwick said he might give the nod to former Port player Matt Thomas first up, after he was promoted to the senior list.
“We have thought about a lot of options for Gary Ablett,” Hardwick said.
“He is a fantastic player and the thing you assume about Gary is that is going to probably get his 25 to 30 touches anyway so it’s whether we go in with the mindset of having a defensive minded player on him and try to limit him by two or three possessions or we try to attack him the other way. We will work through that with match committee this afternoon.”
“The danger at looking too much at Gary is that you underestimate the other players in their side like (Dion) Prestia is an outstanding player and (Jaeger) O’Meara is going to be a star. (Michael) Rischitelli is another quality on-baller, as is (Harley) Bennell. You manage to put all your eggs in one basket with Gary or you can actually realise overall that their midfield is a very solid unit that is capable of winning some footy games.”