Jack Watts is one of the few veterans lining up for Melbourne. Image courtesy of adelaidenow.com.au/Wayne Ludbey/Herald Sun
It’s hard to see Melbourne going any further backwards this season with former Swans premiership coach Paul Roos on board, but fans shouldn’t expect any fireworks in the NAB Challenge opener against Richmond if the squad named is anything to go by. To say the Demons will have a makeshift forward line is an understatement; injuries to Chris Dawes, Mitch Clark and teenage star-in-waiting Jesse Hogan have left Melbourne with little else other than Jeremy Howe as a known goalkicker. The ruck stocks have also taken a blow with Mark Jamar, Max Gawn and ruck-forward Jack Fitzpatrick all sidelined. It leaves Jake Spencer and rookie Max King to shoulder the ruck duties and probably spend a bit of time inside the forward 50.
The good news for the Dees is that midfield recruits Bernie Vince, Daniel Cross, and former No. 3 draft pick Dom Tyson all named to take on the Tigers. That group, along with the likes of Nathan Jones, will get a stern test first up against a Tigers outfit featuring Brett Deledio, Trent Cotchin and Shaun Grigg.
Richmond will also be without its main weapon up forward with Coleman Medallist Jack Riewoldt sitting out. Riewoldt was voted out of the Tigers’ leadership group last week with defender Troy Chaplin elevated after just one season at Punt Road, following his transfer from Port Adelaide. Goalsneak Jake King is also missing from the squad, while the mulleted Ivan Maric will sit out, giving plenty of time in the ruck to former Carlton big Shaun Hampson.
LIVE on Fox Footy
Click here to bet on NAB Challenge matches