RICHMOND coach Damien Hardwick is keeping it simple ahead of a grandstand finish to the AFL season with multiple outcomes possible: the Tigers just have to win and Trent Cotchin will help them do that.
Hardwick’s men will likely need to beat the ladder-leading Brisbane Lions at the MCG on Sunday to secure a top-four spot and Hardwick declared Cotchin a certain starter after three weeks out with a hamstring strain.
Richmond, fourth heading into round 23, will slip to fifth if Collingwood beat injury-ravaged Essendon on Friday night, but they can also push further up the ladder with a win with other results going their way.
Hardwick can’t count on the seemingly endless permutations to favour his side, but what he can depend on is his inspirational skipper.
“He’s a certain starter, obviously we’ve got training today, but we’re very confident he’ll get through that … it’s just important for him to get some match practice,” Hardwick told reporters on Friday.
“He was very close last week and quite possibly could have played but our medical team decided to get some more high-intensity training into him which they thought would put him in good stead for the remainder of our campaign.
“… His ability to hunt the ball and hunt the man with the ball is second to none in the league in my opinion, so we’re incredibly happy to have him back.”
Hardwick was equally bullish on Dylan Grimes’ prospects of shaking off an ankle injury to take his place in the line-up.
However, the versatile defender appears to have some work to do, as he laboured through the warm-up to Friday’s training session before retreating to the sideline.
Lead ruckman Toby Nankervis wasn’t considered for selection as he battles a recurrence of the adductor injury suffered in round eight that sidelined him for two months.
Hardwick is hopeful the influential tall will be able to play in the Tigers’ VFL side during the pre-finals bye.
Richmond, who have won their past 12 clashes with the Lions, will be gunning for their ninth win in a row in a run to the finals that appears to be timed to perfection.
“We’re playing some good footy but as a coach, you always think you’d like to play a bit better,” Hardwick said.
“There are some parts of our game we’d certainly like to improve.
“We’re running out of weeks to do that but we’re reasonably well placed … a lot of our indicators we’re very happy with.
“We know when we play our best footy what that looks like and we’re not far off.”
© AAP 2019