RICHMOND captain Trent Cotchin still expects Essendon to be fired up for Saturday night's unprecedented 'dead rubber'.

The AFL's decision to ban the Bombers from the finals over their controversial supplements regime means the game effectively doesn't count for them.

On the flip-side the Tigers, currently in fifth place ahead of Collingwood, have plenty to play for with momentum vital going into their first finals campaign since 2001.

"They're going to come out with something to prove," Cotchin told

"We have no doubt that they're going to come out firing and we need to make sure that we're on our game and play four quarters of consistent footy that's going to help us build into playing our best footy in finals."

But Cotchin admitted the AFL Commission's ruling does give the round 23 match a sense of unpredictability.

"Depending on how they [Essendon] react to what's happened this week who's to know," Cotchin said.

"I think what we've seen this year is the more and more they've been in the media the better they've performed and the pressure's been on.

"It's been a massive process .. and it'd be hard for anyone and whoever is in this position, whether it's a coach, medical staff or the players.

"I'm just very glad that there's nothing like that that's happened at the Tigers, it's obviously been a really tough period for the whole football club  and its supporters."

Essendon's removal from September action means the Tigers could go from facing interstate side Port Adelaide to arch enemy Carlton in an elimination final, but Cotchin is far from fussed.

"I don't think it matters," Cotchin said. 

"We're very excited about the opportunity to play in our first finals series in a number of years, and the guys are just really setting themselves for playing some really good footy."

Essendon beat Richmond by 29 points when the teams met in the 'Dreamtime at the G' clash earlier in the season.

Twitter: @MattThompsonAFL