Hardwick mulls best 22 for AFL final

Should you change a side that has knocked over the minor premiers in the last round of the AFL season?

It’s a conundrum Richmond coach Damien Hardwick will wrestle with this week, as he mulls which 22 players are best suited for Sunday’s elimination final against Port Adelaide.


“It’s a good question. One I’m not prepared to answer at this stage,” Hardwick said on Monday.

The Tigers were relentless against Sydney at ANZ Stadium, holding on by three points to grab a ninth consecutive win and the last finals berth on offer.

But Ty Vickery and Dan Jackson, two players with genuine claims they belong in Richmond’s best 22, played no part in the memorable triumph.

Vickery had served his four-match ban for punching West Coast ruckman Dean Cox and was available, while Jackson was sidelined due to a one-game VFL ban.

Jackson is the club’s reigning best and fairest and the experienced midfielder will come under serious consideration.

“He’s ready to go,” Hardwick said of Jackson.

“Selection-wise, it will be another decision.

“He’s a finals-type player. He’s hard, he’s tough. He’s in our leadership group. He’s a quality bloke.

“He hasn’t had probably the season he would’ve liked – ruined generally through injury.

“But it’s one of those decisions we’ll make. If he helps us win, we’ll put him in.”

Vickery’s hopes of returning appear more doubtful.

The 24-year-old is short of match fitness due to his indiscretion in round 18, while fellow ruck-forward Ben Griffiths is in form and will not be dropped.

“Griff’s obviously secured a spot, absolutely,” Hardwick said.

“Whether we have the third tall this week (is a decision we have to make).

“Last week we chose to go without it. It will be a selection call we make on Thursday or Friday.”

The Tigers will create a live site for fans on Sunday, screening the final at Punt Rd Oval.

Richmond have also chartered ‘Tiger Army Express’ buses to help fans get to Adelaide Oval.

Neutrals are also hopping on the yellow-and-black bandwagon, given their incredible run to the finals.

“I think we’re probably like the second cousin that all of a sudden becomes the first cousin, if you become famous,” Hardwick said.

“We just hope we can get as many as 10,000 supporters over there to (Adelaide Oval).

“Because I guarantee you our 10,000 will sound like 20,000.”