Tigers lose another defender
RICHMOND will be forced to make at least two changes at the selection table on Wednesday night, with Bachar Houli set to join fellow defender Alex Rance on the sidelines.
Back-up key defender Ryan Garthwaite - who was tipped to replace Rance - has also been ruled out as he continues to build fitness after playing only a half in a VFL practice match last week in his return from an Achilles complaint.
Brandon Ellis, Jason Castagna, Oleg Markov, Connor Menadue and Jack Ross all trained this morning as members of the extended squad for Thursday night's clash with Collingwood and shape as the potential replacements.
Houli had scans on his hamstring earlier in the week and the Tigers have opted to take a cautious approach.
"He won't play. We'll take the week," Hardwick said on Wednesday morning.
"We're really conservative with these calls and we feel he's too important a player so we won't play him this week.
"Push comes to shove, he could play. But it's a marathon, not a sprint, so we'll take the week on the chin."
Hardwick said the Tigers would need to take a team approach to cover Rance, who had surgery on Wednesday on an ACL injury that is likely to end his season.
However, Noah Balta has been tapped on the shoulder and told he could be sent into defence.
"Alex is irreplaceable really," Hardwick said.
"He's such an incredible talent and once-in-a-generation full-back but if we're looking to replace Alex with a single player that's not going to happen.
"We expect 22 players to improve in an area of the game. We accept it, we acknowledge it and we move on. We see what it looks like from here on forward so that's an exciting change for us."
Collingwood run-with midfielder Levi Greenwood could be recalled for an assignment on Richmond star Dustin Martin in Thursday night's blockbuster.
Greenwood was left out of the Magpies' Round 1 loss to Geelong and there could be selection repercussions, given coach Nathan Buckley has made it clear he wants more from their star-studded midfield.
Greenwood is the most obvious inclusion if Collingwood decided to make a midfield change, while Brayden Sier is also pressing his claims for a senior recall.
While Buckley wants more grunt from the midfielders he backed star ruckman Brodie Grundy, who was below his best in the Cats loss.