Tigers And Roos Near Full Strength

Image courtesy of perthnow.com.au
Trent Cotchin will skipper the Tigers for the first time in a competitive match. Image courtesy of perthnow.com.au
In five of six matches last weekend, the team coming off the rest in games two and three took the chocolates, and the only team to buck that trend was Collingwood when it won kicking a goal from a late free kick to beat Essendon.

Judging by that, Richmond and North Melbourne are in the box seat on Friday night when they take on Melbourne at Etihad Stadium. Not surprisingly for a team which always seems to be on the rebuild, the Demons have included a smattering of youth for the two shortened matches. Melbourne gave up pick No. 3 in the draft to get key position prospect Jesse Hogan, despite the fact he is 17 an ineligible to play premiership fixtures until next year. Much like Jaeger O’Meara did last year for the Suns, he has been given an exemption to turn out in the NAB Cup, and it will be intriguing to see how the blue-chip teenager goes against senior players, especially with forward line gun Mitch Clark missing from the team.

Two Dees who are almost certainties to play a lot at AFL level this season are Jack Viney and Jimmy Toumpas. Viney, who came to the club as a father/son pick, looks ready to command a position in Melbourne’s midfield immediately, while Toumpas has already shown flashes of brilliance at SANFL and underage level.

A former Demon, Jordan Gysberts, will line up against his old side for North Melbourne, while the Kangaroos will also unveil another debutant, former Port Adelaide defender Ben Jacobs. North has named an experienced squad with just one player, mature-age recruit Daniel Currie, yet to play at AFL level. Currie will be fighting it out with Sudanese refugee turned ruckman Majak Daw for game time, given the departures of big men Hamish McIntosh and Cameron Pedersen during the off-season.  Brent Harvey will play, despite his suspension from 2012 which carries over to the regular season, while recently re-signed Jack Ziebell and Daniel Wells will both be eased back in to the games after coming back from injury.

Richmond has also named a strong squad, as it did when the Tigers went down to the Indigenous All-Stars in Alice Springs a couple of weeks back. New skipper Trent Cotchin will be joined by his other star mids Brett Deledio, Shaun Grigg and Shane Tuck. The Tigers have also selected senior recruits Aaron Edwards, Chris Knights and Ricky Petterd, all of whom have played a significant amount of top-level footy.

North defeated Richmond by three points in this format last season under the roof at Etihad. The Kangas have beaten Melbourne in the last 10 premiership fixtures the teams have played while Richmond won both matches against the Dees last season. 

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