GEELONG will blood ruckman Esava Ratugolea for his first AFL appearance of the season, swinging a dramatic late change ahead of its Grand Final rematch against Richmond on Friday night.

As reported by on Wednesday, Ratugolea comes into the Cats team and replaces fellow ruckman Rhys Stanley.

It is Ratugolea's first senior appearance since round 18 last season, with the athletic big man dealing with leg and groin injuries that have kept him sidelined for the first part of the campaign.

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It is the third change for Geelong, who had already recalled veteran Shaun Higgins and Sam Simpson for the injured Gryan Miers and the omitted Jordan Clark. The club's medical substitute will be Quinton Narkle.

Richmond is unchanged from the side it named on Thursday evening, which included two forced alterations from the team that had gallantly defeated the Western Bulldogs last weekend.

Tigers superstar Dustin Martin and triple-premiership defender Nick Vlastuin return, replacing injured duo Trent Cotchin and Dylan Grimes. Their medical substitute will again be Patrick Naish.

02:01 Mins
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Match Previews R8: Richmond v Geelong

Sportsbet's Nathan Brown and Matthew Richardson preview the game between the Tigers and Cats at the MCG

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Richmond v Geelong at the MCG, 7.50pm AEST 

Geelong: Rhys Stanley replaced in selected side by Esava Ratugolea
Richmond: Nil

Richmond: Pat Naish
Geelong: Quinton Narkle