RICHMOND could be without up to seven of its premiership stars from last year ahead of its trip to the Queensland hub this week, following a bruising victory over Melbourne that came at a significant cost on Sunday.
Trent Cotchin (hamstring), Dion Prestia (syndesmosis), Tom Lynch (broken finger) and Toby Nankervis (syndesmosis) were all injured in the comfortable 27-point win and appear set to join David Astbury (knee) on the sidelines.
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The news will further limit the available players coach Damien Hardwick will have to pick from ahead of a clash with Sydney at the Gabba next Sunday, with important duo Bachar Houli and Shane Edwards also considering whether they venture into the Queensland hub.
Tigers senior club advisor Neil Balme revealed before Sunday's match that "a couple" of senior players wouldn't make the trip due to family reasons, while a host of younger players would remain in Victoria due to the fact no scratch matches will be played in the hubs.
Hardwick said Richmond officials were still working through the finer details of who would travel to Queensland on Monday, with nothing yet finalised ahead of the club's flight at 1pm AEST.
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"Obviously those guys (Cotchin, Prestia and Nankervis) won't play next week," Hardwick said.
"(Lynch) played out the game, so we're hoping that he'll be OK.
"It's come at a hefty price, but those boys will be back. We'll get an opportunity to see some other players who will fill some roles. That excites us, because we've been down this path before. We've dealt with it and I'm pretty sure we'll deal with it again."
Premiership duo Houli and Edwards are the two Richmond players Balme referred to as being unlikely to travel to Queensland, with both set to remain in Victoria to support their young families.
It comes as every team in the competition will be forced interstate next week, while every Victorian side looks set to be moved away from home for the next five weeks, due to the ongoing effects of the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Houli's partner has given birth to a baby boy, while Edwards' partner is expected to give birth imminently, with Richmond now tipped to be without more than a third of the side that won the club's second premiership in three years last September.
Brandon Ellis, who left the club for Gold Coast during last year's Telstra AFL Trade Period, is an eighth player from that team who won't face the Swans on Sunday.
"Bachar had a baby boy, so we send our congratulations," Hardwick said.
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"Shane's partner is pregnant and is probably pretty close to giving birth now.
"We've got some situations we have to work through, but the overriding thing is that we're pumped and ready to go. I can't wait to get up there. Bring on the sun."
Despite the heavy toll of Sunday's victory, Hardwick said he was thrilled with the development of a number of youngsters who could soon be pressing for senior selection in the coming weeks.
Jake Aarts impressed in his AFL debut against Melbourne, Jack Ross, Shai Bolton and Sydney Stack remain on the fringes of the senior team, while first-round picks Riley Collier-Dawkins and Thomson Dow are closing in on their maiden appearances for the Tigers.
"It could be (a different side next week), but it's exciting," Hardwick said.
"I say this reluctantly, because I've lost some players that are incredibly talented, but I've got some players who are going to come in that I'm really excited about.
"We've got Marlion Pickett, who played well again today. Shai Bolton and Sydney Stack went through the middle of the ground. Riley Collier-Dawkins didn't play today, but Thomson Dow did and he looked good again.
"We've got some players that I think will play senior footy for us, and pretty soon."
Melbourne will travel to New South Wales immediately after its defeat to Richmond, with the sight of players packing suitcases onto buses in the minutes after Sunday's clash providing an eerie aftermath to the encounter.
The Demons will take a squad of 33 with them interstate, with coach Simon Goodwin confirming new recruit Harley Bennell would make the trip along with a mix of senior and younger players.
"It was a really difficult decision not to take everyone," Goodwin said.
"It just seems that logistically it's going to be better for everyone at our footy club. We want to support all of the players that are going with their families, because we've got six or seven guys with young kids and wives that they're bringing along.
"It's a combination (of senior and younger players). Some mature-age guys, some younger guys … they'll stay back. We've picked the 33 that we think will be in the mix for selection in the next five weeks."