RICHMOND skipper Trent Cotchin remains several weeks away from an AFL return after having a setback in his recovery from a hamstring injury.
The Tigers are awaiting medical reports but will reduce Cotchin’s workload after he experienced discomfort during his rehabilitation.
Cotchin hasn’t played since suffering the injury in round three, although the Tigers have won each of their subsequent games.
Key forward Jack Riewoldt (wrist) is a certain starter for the Anzac Eve game against Melbourne, meaning the Tigers will have two of their big four available.
Alex Rance (knee) is out for the season while fellow star Dustin Martin returned from suspension and kicked three goals during last week’s win over Sydney.
“Unfortunately Trent hasn’t responded the way we would have liked with his hamstring, so he’s probably a little further away than we would have liked,” coach Damien Hardwick said on Tuesday.
“We probably envisaged that he would play next week but that’s not going to be the case now.
“It’s a little bit disappointing – he was at full speed, pretty much, it just hasn’t responded the way we would have liked.
“We’ll pull him back a little bit and wait to see where it goes from there.”
Asked whether Cotchin had suffered another small tear in his hamstring, Hardwick responded that it was “hard to say”.
“We haven’t had the medical reports yet but we do know he’s not feeling comfortable,” he said.
Young guns Daniel Rioli and Sydney Stack both copped knocks during the win over the Swans but Hardwick was confident his players would manage their four-day break.
Gunning for their third straight win, the Tigers will start comfortable favourites against a bottom-placed Melbourne side grappling with a range of issues.
“The ladder doesn’t look great for them but the reality is they’re an outstanding footy side,” Hardwick said.
“They’ve got a couple of things in their game that aren’t going quite to the level they’d like but we know in this game – and we were probably in their boat two to three weeks ago – that you can quite easily flick a switch and all of a sudden your game comes back.
“They’re a tough, hard footy side that play the game the way I like it to be played.”
© AAP 2019