RICHMOND is weighing up three replacements for premiership defender Bachar Houli, with the Tigers entering their round one clash with Carlton at near full strength.
Houli, who trained with the Tigers' modified group on Tuesday, will miss Thursday night's season-opening clash with the Blues at the MCG with a calf injury that lingered from last year's Grand Final.
And a first-gamer could replace him, with coach Damien Hardwick saying the Tigers were considering a range of options over the next two days.
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"We still haven't settled on that. We're just working our way through that at the moment," the triple-premiership coach said.
"We've got a number of players. A young player by the name of Hugo Ralphsmith has been really impressive over the course of summer, Marlion Pickett has been doing some work down back so whether we play him through that half-back line, and Derek Eggmolesse-Smith is another player we've got high hopes for also.
"We've got a number of options that [could] roll through there, how we fall we're not quite sure at the moment."
If Pickett plays, it could mean the Tigers go in with only one change to the 22 that defeated the Cats in last year's historic premiership.
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Ralphsmith, a second-year Tiger who didn't break through for a senior game last season, played in Richmond's practice game against Melbourne and has taken the eye over the pre-season with his increased size and run from defence as he's groomed as a long-term replacement for the rebounding Houli.
Hardwick also confirmed that Dion Prestia, who has recovered from a hamstring injury, will "definitely" play, while adding that Houli could be available for round two.
"[Houli's] yet to really join in skills at this stage but he's a seasoned campaigner, he's done 14 or 15 pre-seasons, so we probably think he'd be a chance for round two," he said. "But once again we have to see how he progresses once the skill work increases."
Hardwick is confident his group remains hungry after claiming three of the past four premierships as the Tigers eye three successive flags in their history. The club will unfurl its 2019-20 premiership flags at the MCG in front of a capped crowd of about 50,000 fans, but Hardwick said the Blues presented a tough challenge.
"They're really dominant if you allow them to play the game on their offensive terms. They've probably got a couple of talls they'd like to have in that side but once again coaches love predictability and they're going to be unpredictable up front," he said.
"'Teaguey's' (coach David Teague) doing a wonderful job. They're on the march, there's no doubt about that, and they're going to be a real side that I think will improve this year."
Hardwick also said the addition of a substitute being available to clubs from round one as the AFL contemplates pushing through a late rule change to allow a 23rd player to replace an injured or concussed player was "a great thing".
"If you've got a fresh player there, in my opinion, I'd say put him on and play him," Hardwick said.