RICHMOND’S No.1 ruckman Ivan Maric is all but confirmed for his long-awaited comeback this weekend.
The only problem for the Tigers is whose spot he takes in the side for the Dreamtime At The 'G blockbuster against Essendon.
The Tigers will decide at match committee on Thursday afternoon if Maric plays this week against the Dons, after two VFL games and about 160 minutes of match time.
While it looks less likely Daniel Jackson will face the Bombers on Saturday night after the midfielder was kept to standing drills at training on Thursday morning, Maric trained fully and looks for his first AFL game for the year.
Coach Damien Hardwick said the ruckman was the type of player that would make his teammates stand taller.
"I think the mark of a player is you make people around you better and that's what Ivan does," Hardwick said before training.
"He instils belief in players and we've missed that over the course of his absence in the early parts of the year.
"We look forward to bringing that back in.
"He's definitely put his hand up for selection, he's an important player for us, we know what he brings to the table so it's going to be an interesting discussion at match committee this afternoon."
Hardwick said part of the debate about playing Maric would centre around whether the Tigers could also accommodate Tyrone Vickery, Shaun Hampson and Ben Griffiths.
"That's the question we'll be answering," he said.
"The good thing is we're in a good selection dilemma – Ty played really well, 'Griffo' played well and Hampson played well also last week.
"We've got to make sure we make the right decision and the best decision that helps us beat the Bombers."
Interestingly, Vickery wasn't seen at training on Thursday at Punt Road.
While Hardwick said Jackson's recovery from the hip injury sustained during last week's 113-point win over Greater Western Sydney had been strong, he remains in doubt after being heavily limited in the morning hit-out.
There's no doubt last week's landslide win will count for little if the Tigers can't bring the same level of intensity against an opponent that is in a similar position to them.
Hardwick said they had spoken about that fact after the game and were ready to face a side that was suffering the same inconsistent struggles with its forward line.
"I think both sides have been playing below the standard of expectation," he said.
"We're both in a similar boat – we're ticking over a few wins but we're not playing anywhere near the expectation our fans, coaching staff and players have expected.
"I think we can see our game is starting to get back up and going. We probably played more to the style of last year that people are more keen on seeing and we're keen on playing.
"We look forward to seeing that on Saturday."
Hardwick said the Tigers' ball movement and scoring ability had been better against the Giants but compared their recent attacking woes to that of the Dons.
He said the Bombers had also been stymied by players performing as individuals and not as a collective, with the often talked-about plight of Jake Carlisle similar to what Jack Riewoldt has endured.
While the coach admitted he wouldn't mind having a player like Carlisle at Punt Road, he hoped it wasn't on Saturday night that the combination of the reluctant forward and Joe Daniher fired.
"They've got a formidable forward line and probably like us it hasn't been functioning well," he said.
"Eventually their goals will come – I just hope it's not this week against us."