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Flying Soldo: Injury creates opportunity for Tiger tall

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IVAN Soldo will get first crack at Richmond's number one ruck role while Toby Nankervis is sidelined for two months with an adductor injury.

Tigers coach Damien Hardwick also forecasted 19-year-old ruckman Callum Coleman-Jones may make his senior debut at some point during Nankervis' absence.

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Soldo has played just eight games since his debut in 2017, including only one last year, and will be coming up against one of the competition's most experienced ruckmen on Sunday in Hawthorn's Ben McEvoy.

"We feel [Soldo's] got the capacity to play that role consistently, and then we've also got a young up-and-coming ruckman in Coleman-Jones who we're really excited about as well," Hardwick said.

"The opportunity will be presented to Soldo first and foremost, and hopefully we can give him a good run at it. We feel, for his footy to go forward, he needs the opportunity to develop in the number one ruck role."

The Tigers traditionally play just one ruckman, with utility Noah Balta – who was forced the shoulder the load after Nankervis was injured last week – in support.

Hardwick said Balta had pulled up well after playing extended minutes, although the youngster is still missing one piece of critical ruck equipment.

"He's a beast, he's incredibly athletic. I thought he was terrific for a young kid in really his first year of footy, to say, 'listen, you've got 80 per cent of the ruck duties'," Hardwick said.

"I'd actually be happy if he got a shin guard at some stage. He hasn't got one, he seems to think it's a sign of weakness, but we'll let him keep continuing to do what he does."

 

Nick Vlastuin (rolled ankle) and Daniel Rioli (general soreness) have been named in Richmond's extended squad, but will need to complete the main training session on Friday morning before their spots are confirmed.

Draftee Riley Collier-Dawkins was also named in the squad of 26, but his debut is likely to be held over for at least another week, with Hardwick predicting a more experienced player will come in to take Jack Ross' (syndesmosis) spot.

We feel, for his footy to go forward, he needs the opportunity to develop in the number one ruck role - Damien Hardwick on Ivan Soldo

Skipper Trent Cotchin (hamstring) is on track for a return in round 11 against North Melbourne after initially suffering the injury in round three.

The injury flared up again three weeks ago, pushing back his return date, but contrary to some reports, he hasn't suffered a recent setback.

"Once again, I did say at the time, because it was a re-aggravation, we were always going to take that extra time. We just wanted to be extra cautious and made sure we got him back, so he's on track for the North game," Hardwick said.

"He's running at 90 to 95 per cent, so he's thereabouts."

Premiership midfielder Shaun Grigg announced his immediate retirement on Wednesday after persistent knee and hip injuries, with an emotional Hardwick praising him as an "outstanding footy brain".

"He probably came and saw us last week. The type of guy 'Grigga' is, he knew where he was at, probably had a good understanding of what would be required to get back," he said.

"He's always a team-first player, Shaun. Look at when he first came into the footy club, and he's a big part of the reason we're at a place where we are now. He's been so important to the fabric of our club, not only him, but his family. They come to every game and they're part of the Richmond crew.

"It's going to be a big loss, not only on-field because he's incredibly smart, but just his ability to bring the club together off-field is incredibly important.

"The funny thing about Shaun is he's an incredible player who's played over 200 games, but he's one of the smartest coaches in waiting I've ever seen.

"I'm not sure if he's going to go down that path, but he's got an incredible ability to see what's happening on the field and translate it to the players and coaching staff as well. I think he's only scratching the surface with his career."

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