Main content

Danger, Dusty set for head-to-head clash

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 05: Dustin Martin of the Tigers celebrates with Damien Hardwick, Senior Coach of the Tigers during the 2016 AFL Round 20 match between the Richmond Tigers and the Collingwood Magpies at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on August 05, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Justine Walker/AFL Media)
Damien Hardwick plans to unleash Dustin Martin for a one-on-one clash with Patrick Dangerfield

BROWNLOW Medal favourites Patrick Dangerfield and Dustin Martin are set to go head-to-head on Sunday in a match-up which might decide who takes home the game's highest individual honour at the end of the season.

Geelong superstar Dangerfield ($1.50) is the runaway Brownlow favourite with Crownbet, with Richmond bull Martin ($7) next in line.

Both players are averaging more than 30 disposals after standout seasons and, if Tigers coach Damien Hardwick gets his way, the match-winners will face-off in a mouth-watering showdown at the MCG.

Hardwick said he wouldn't send a tagger to Dangerfield unless the star Cat got off the leash.

"We'll let those guys go head-to-head at the start and then we might look at something if Danger gets out of control," Hardwick said on Thursday.

"But that's probably happened with every game with Danger, hasn't it?

"He's such a quality competitor, he's one of those guys who is very hard to tag, he wins contested ball inside the contest and then also post-clearance as well."

After a pressure-relieving win over Collingwood last Friday night, the Tigers have the carrot dangling to end an 11-game losing streak against top-four contenders Geelong.

"We've been close the last four or five times; it's been a couple of goals that have decided it, but Geelong have been an outstanding outfit for a long period of time and we're looking forward to giving our players that challenge," Hardwick said.

The Tigers will once again be without Brett Deledio, who has been put on ice for the remainder of the year with a calf complaint.

But Hardwick isn't concerned about the injury-prone veteran's long-term durability after a run of soft-tissue problems limited him to 11 games this year – his fewest in 12 seasons at Punt Rd.

"We just had to weigh-up the risk versus reward," Hardwick said of playing Deledio again this season.

"Brett's obviously an important player for us and we didn't want to put him in the situation where we put him out with the possibility of being hurt again."

In better news for the Tigers, ruckman Shaun Hampson and crafty small forward Sam Lloyd have re-signed until the end of 2018.

Hampson, who has won the fourth most hit-outs this season, has turned his career around in 2016.

"He's got some areas of his game we think he can improve; rucks generally don't hit their straps until 26 or 27, Shaun's at that age now," Hardwick said.

"He's had a really good season, but we look forward to him improving over the next two years, which is why we gave him that contract extension.

"He's made enormous inroads this year."

The Tigers have some tough selection calls to make this week, with youngster Ben Lennon (23 touches, three goals) and Liam McBean (four goals) impressing at VFL level, and Shane Edwards and Reece Conca possibly returning from injury.

Meanwhile Hardwick hinted small forward Daniel Butler is a chance to debut against the Cats in star forward Jack Riewoldt's 200th game.