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BARRETT: Shades of Dermie in Tiger rookie's bid for finals debut

Marlion Pickett has given Tigers coach Damien Hardwick a decision to make on the eve of finals - AFL,column,Tag-Opinion,Richmond Tigers,Marlion Pickett
Marlion Pickett has given Tigers coach Damien Hardwick a decision to make on the eve of finals

MARLION Pickett already owns one of the best storylines of the 2019 season.

Twenty-seven years old. Father of four. Jailed in his late teenage years. Given a place on an AFL club list in the mid-season draft. 

'HE DESERVES THIS' Why Tigers pounced on WAFL star Pickett

Now, with a solid month of VFL football into his system, Pickett has challenged Richmond coach Damien Hardwick to make the most daring of team selection decisions going into the finals. 

 

Just as Allan Jeans provided Dermott Brereton with a big-time debut in a final in 1982, Hardwick has reason to ponder doing the same with Pickett.

Pickett went close to senior selection in the final two rounds of the season, being named in extended squads, and was impressive again in the VFL on Saturday, kicking two goals and accumulating 21 disposals at Punt Road against Essendon. 

 

The Tigers seem very settled, having won their past nine matches, so a curveball selection remains a long shot.

The form of Shai Bolton in the past four matches has been OK, but he managed just seven disposals and one tackle in the final match of the home-and-away season against Brisbane.

He tallied 11 disposals in each of his previous three matches. If he is to play in Saturday night's qualifying final, he knows he needs to lift. 

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When drafted by the Tigers in late May, Pickett was thought to be no chance of AFL selection in 2019, as he arrived at the club with a badly damaged finger.

While recovering from that injury, he worked closely with Alex Rance and Jack Riewoldt in the club's rehabilitation group, and has quickly earned the respect of everyone at Richmond.

Marlion Pickett fires off a handball at Tigers training in August. 

A two-time best-and-fairest winner at South Fremantle, the Tigers felt Pickett would be best suited across half-back and in on-ball roles, but he can clearly play forward too.

On a sunny early September day in 1982 at the MCG against North Melbourne, Dermott Brereton, wearing No.47, managed five goals in his first game, the first of those five coming after a pass from Leigh Matthews in the second quarter.

Dermott Brereton, pictured in 1989, became a finals great after making his debut in September 1982. 

Pickett might just have done enough to follow Brereton into a VFL/AFL debut in a final – against Brisbane at the Gabba on Saturday night. 

That would take some beating for story of the year. 

Twitter: @barrettdamian

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