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Houli set for Tigers return against Port


Richmond are set to call on veteran defender Bachar Houli for his first game since the 2020 AFL grand final when they clash with Port Adelaide.

Houli, 32, hasn’t featured at AFL level since he bravely played through a calf injury in last year’s decider – an issue that ultimately also set back his preparation for this season.

But after Houli got through a VFL hit-out on the weekend, coach Damien Hardwick backed the triple-premiership defender to prove his fitness for Friday night’s game in Adelaide.

“He’ll train today. If he gets through training he’ll certainly put his hand up to play and I’ll certainly pick him,” Hardwick told reporters on Wednesday.

The Tigers will be forced into at least two changes with Dion Prestia (hamstring) and Kamdyn McIntosh (concussion) ruled out, while Nick Vlastuin (knee) is still another month away.

But the Tigers expect captain Trent Cotchin to play after he finished Saturday’s loss to Sydney on the bench with ice on his hamstring and groin areas.

“It was probably a bit overblown,” Hardwick said.

“In theory we had three six-day breaks, so ideally we probably thought and spoke about management of one of those games – but obviously with Dion going out, plans changed pretty quickly.

“So look, our firm belief is that he’ll play. He’ll train today.”

Hardwick said there would be “at least one debutant” and potentially two against the Power.

Midfielders Riley Collier-Dawkins and Will Martyn are in the mix to play their maiden AFL games.

Fellow potential debutant Hugo Ralphsmith has impressed but has been handed a two-match suspension – which can be downgraded to one game with an early guilty plea – for striking Collingwood’s Nathan Murphy in a VFL practice match.

Meanwhile, Hardwick dismissed any criticism of Richmond’s defence after their loss to the Swans.

“Sydney, to their credit, had a great game, we didn’t play particularly well,” he said.

“So we can sit there and judge us on one game but I’m a pretty proud coach of a pretty proud playing group.

“Judge us on the next four weeks, see how we go then.”


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