RICHMOND coach Damien Hardwick has proposed a loan system for players to swap clubs during the season as Gold Coast's ruck crisis forces the Suns to search from within their ranks to fill the void.
The Suns will be without skipper Jarrod Witts for the rest of the season after his anterior cruciate ligament tear, meaning they don't have a fit recognised ruckman on their list.
They will need to wait until the mid-season draft in June to add a ready-made replacement, but the Tigers coach said he supported a loan arrangement that would see clubs be able to swap players for short periods if they filled a specific need.
He threw up first-year 206cm Richmond ruckman Samson Ryan as an example of a player who could benefit from a loan system.
"Anything that gives a young player an opportunity to play the game, I love," Hardwick said on Wednesday.
"We've got a young kid by the name of Samson Ryan that we'd love to loan them. At the end of the day this kid – we're really excited about what he's going to bring – but we've got (Callum) Coleman-Jones, we've got Mabior Chol, we've got Samson.
"So he's sitting there playing forward in VFL footy. Not that I'd like to give them Samson if he's playing against us, but anything that gives a player the opportunity to play at AFL [level] we should look at, absolutely."
A loaning model has existed in soccer competitions for some time around the world and also in the NRL.
The AFL last year proposed a rolling 'waiver'-type system after each of the first three months of the season instead of a mid-season draft where clubs could sign replacements, but it was met with opposition from clubs who indicated they didn't have the resources to cover it.
The Tigers will consider adding Chol to their line-up this Friday night for their clash with Port Adelaide, to help combat the Power's ruck duo of Scott Lycett and Peter Ladhams.
Richmond will have a number of changes for the Adelaide Oval clash, with Dion Prestia (hamstring) and Kamdyn McIntosh (concussion) ruled out. The club expects Trent Cotchin to make the trip and Bachar Houli is also in line for a recall for his first game since last year's Grand Final after returning to the VFL last week.
Hardwick confirmed the Tigers would also play at least one debutant and perhaps two, with Will Martyn and Riley Collier-Dawkins to be in contention. Another youngster who has been pushing for a first game, Hugo Ralphsmith, has accepted a one-game suspension for striking in the VFL so will be unavailable for AFL selection.
Wingman Patrick Naish is also firmly in the frame for his first game of 2021 after a dominant VFL performance last week.
After last week's thrashing at the hands of the Swans, Hardwick said the reigning back-to-back premiers were ready to respond against one of their premiership challengers.
"Sydney, to their credit, had a great game. We didn't play particularly well. We can sit there and judge us on one game, but I'm a pretty proud coach of a pretty proud playing group. Judge us on the next four weeks, see how we go then," he said.