RICHMOND coach Damien Hardwick has been quick to claim underdog status for an MCG heavyweight clash with Geelong he concedes "probably" should be being played down the highway.
The Tigers will be without superstar Dustin Martin after a serious kidney injury sidelined the match-winner for the rest of the AFL season.
But the ninth-placed Tigers are clinging to hopes they can spread Martin's workload across the team and remain in the finals hunt as they pursue a fourth premiership in five years.
LADDER PREDICTOR Where will your club finish?
Geelong thrashed Richmond by 63 points in their most recent meeting - at the MCG in round eight - and has held opponents to just 44 points a game on a current three-match winning streak that has put it within half a win of top spot.
"They've been playing a very consistent brand of footy," Hardwick said.
"We've got a challenge, there's no doubt about it, but we've been in these situations before and we've come out on top.
"It's very much an underdog status for us but we're looking forward to an enormous challenge versus a very good Geelong."
Once a crowd was ruled out because of Victoria's latest COVID-19 lockdown, Geelong sought to have Sunday's home game moved from the MCG to its regular base at GMHBA Stadium.
TRADE HUB All the latest player movement news
But the move was rebuffed by the AFL, which cited contractual obligations at the MCG.
"We're always happy to play at the 'G; for me, that's where the big games get played," Hardwick said.
"But we can understand Geelong requesting the game (be played) down there.
"It probably made sense to us, as well, with no crowd and it is their home game."
Richmond's loss of Martin has been offset to some extent by All-Australian midfielder Shane Edwards' expected return from an ankle injury.
"He's important and he comes back injury-free, too," Hardwick said.
"Shane's had one of those years where he's played some games but he's been banged-up, to be honest, so we look forward to having him back at his best, but it might take a week or two for him to hit his very best form.
"We know when he's playing his very best footy we're certainly a better team for it. He'll play some midfield and some forward.
"He's such an important player (because) he makes everyone around him better, as well. It's a big win for us to have him back."
Meanwhile, Hardwick said the club had no qualms about spending next week under strict Western Australian quarantine rules in preparation for next week's clash with Fremantle.
The Tigers are preparing to fly to Perth straight after the game against the Cats, bound for a stint at Joondalup Resort.
They will live and train under the same protocols as St Kilda are operating under this week before their meeting with West Coast.
"We're in six days quarantine and get released on the seventh," Hardwick said.
"Released is probably not the word, but we'll be allowed to play on the seventh day against Freo over there.
"It's a little bit of planning and preparation but we've got some great people working behind the scenes who will take care of that.
"We'll get on the plane and give it a crack over there."