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Tigers' defence decimated as flag pair ruled out of Cats clash

Will Grundy be fit for the Queen's Birthday ruck battle royale? Mitch Cleary with your Thursday Footy Feed

RICHMOND has suffered a double blow for its Friday night blockbuster against Geelong, losing David Astbury and Brandon Ellis to injury.

The Tigers are hopeful the premiership players will only miss one week, with Astbury out because of a hamstring problem and Ellis sidelined with groin soreness.

"This time of year the fatigue factor starts to set in and bodies start to break down a little bit, so we are hoping at this stage that it is just the one week," coach Damien Hardwick said.

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Astbury's absence means one less key defender to go up against dangerous Cats forward Tom Hawkins.

But Hardwick backed Ryan Garthwaite to go head-to head with the Geelong star.

Garthwaite spent time on Hawkins in round 13 last year, when the Cats spearhead was kept to three goals in the Richmond win.

The 20-year-old backman has played the last four games since his senior recall.

"Young Garthwaite ... did a really good job on him, so we are confident that he'll be able to do the job again,'' Hardwick said.

"A lot of it is based around, if he (Hawkins) gets clean ball inside 50m he is going to be hard to stop.

"We know most sides, if you put pressure on the ball, it makes the defenders' job a little bit easier, so we will be certainly looking to get that part of our game back because it was not to the level that we liked last week."

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There was plenty of reviewing at Punt Rd this week after North Melbourne, under new coach Rhyce Shaw, bounced the Tigers for an upset 37-point win.

Much of the commentary around that match was that North was able to "out-Richmond" the Tigers at their own game.

Cats star Gary Ablett will return from his one-game suspension, the culmination of a series of incidents involving the two-time Brownlow Medallist over the last few games.

Hardwick was asked if it might be worth trying to niggle the little master.

"Gary? I wouldn't think so," he replied.

"He has played about 700 games? He is still a bloody good player. We won't worry about that."