RICHMOND'S ruck headaches have deepened, with Ivan Soldo's one-match ban for striking Hawthorn youngster James Worpel upheld at the AFL Tribunal on Tuesday night.
It means the Tigers will be without both Soldo and first-choice big man Toby Nankervis for Saturday night's pivotal clash with the Bombers, leaving uncapped youngster Callum Coleman-Jones as one of few remaining ruck options for the Dreamtime at the 'G match.
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Rookie Mabior Chol, who has just one game of AFL experience under his belt, and the undersized Noah Balta are the other left-field ruck options for an injury-depleted Richmond.
Soldo attempted to plead not guilty to making 'intentional' contact with Worpel, saying his actions were based on instinct and that he was "stunned" by the Hawk bumping him.
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However, the Tribunal upheld the decision after a 15-minute deliberation process.
Soldo and Richmond footy boss Neil Balme, quite clearly aggrieved by the decision, refused to answer questions from the media upon the conclusion of the case.
The incident came during Richmond's comfortable win over Hawthorn on Sunday.
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Soldo was making his way from the field, having just given up a free kick that led to a Dylan Moore shot on goal, when he ran past Worpel and caught him with a forearm to the head.
The Richmond ruckman said that a scuffle ensued after he gave away the free kick and that he was bracing for contact with the Hawthorn youngster when he ran from the field.
His legal representative, Sam Tovey, argued that the incident came after an "instinctive reaction to contact initiated from another player that he was not expecting".
Upon being called to the witness stand, Soldo himself also revealed his belief that the 19cm height gap between he and Worpel was a factor in the incident.
Soldo also said he apologised to Worpel immediately after delivering the blow, saying he checked on the welfare of the Hawks midfielder as it wasn't his intention to strike him.
However, the AFL's legal counsel, Jeff Gleeson QC, argued that the reasonable action for a player to brace for contact would be to tuck his arms in, rather than raise them as Soldo did.
The Tribunal deliberated for 15 minutes, before upholding the Match Review's decision.
The Tigers elected not to challenge the gradings of high contact and low impact.