Star Tigers ready to face Blues
BY JASON PHELAN
STAR Richmond duo Jack Riewoldt and Alex Rance have declared themselves fully fit to take on Carlton in the AFL season opener on Thursday night.
Riewoldt sent a scare through the Tigers’ camp when he rolled his ankle in the club’s final pre-season hitout against Collingwood in Moe last week.
“It’s good as gold, I could’ve gone back on, it was more of a scare than an actual issue,” Riewoldt said.
“It was the ankle that I had reconstructed over the break, but I’m fit and firing.
“It’s probably more mental than anything … I was a little bit worried there for a bit, but I’m 100 per cent ready to go.”
Rance has been carefully managed late in the pre-season campaign with hamstring soreness, but played all of the loss to the Pies.
“I was pretty cooked … it was a pretty hot day and I probably needed the run because I’d only played half a game the week before,” Rance said.
“(But) it was good to get a full game in and I’m better for the run.”
Riewoldt confirmed third-year forward Dan Butler will make his AFL debut on Thursday, while recruits Dion Prestia, Josh Caddy and Toby Nankervis will all likely play their first games for the club.
Coach Damien Hardwick will have nearly his entire squad to select from for the clash against the Blues.
“We’re in a really lucky position really … we’ve got Shaun Hampson and Steve Morris as probably our only two unavailable players,” Hardwick said.
“There are going to be some selection headaches for us, which is the way you want to be.”
Hampson has been placed on the long-term injury list with a back issue, while Morris is working his way back from a knee reconstruction.
Carlton will also hit the start of the home-and-away season in good shape, with ruckman Andrew Phillips (foot) the only regular senior player unavailable.