Tigers hope Houli makes quick AFL return

Richmond are hoping durable defender Bachar Houli is back playing AFL sooner than expected after undergoing surgery on a broken wrist.

The 28-year-old suffered the injury at training last week, forcing him out of their last-gasp win over Sydney last round.

A club official confirmed on Tuesday he would miss between eight and 10 weeks as he recovered.

Houli has been remarkably reliable since crossing from Essendon before the 2011 season, playing 118 of a possible 120 games leading into the clash with the Swans.

Richmond playmaker Brett Deledio said they hoped to see him back within six weeks.

“He’s only missed two games since starting with us so hopefully he makes a speedy recovery,” Deledio said.

While Houli’s experience will be missed, Deledio said he felt the Tigers had good depth coming off halfback to cover him and backed youngster Corey Ellis to step up.

“Corey Ellis has played every game this year and he’s playing some pretty handy footy and growing with every game he plays.

“Bachar’s a great player and we will welcome him back when he’s ready but we’re covering him OK at the moment.”

Deledio said the return of skipper Trent Cotchin would temper the loss of Houli.

Cotchin fractured his cheekbone in the Tigers’ loss to Port Adelaide in late April but Deledio said he looked good to go and might don a helmet for the Fremantle match.

“He’s a fantastic leader and a pretty handy player as well so that’s great for us that he should be back,” Deledio said.

News of Houli’s setback came to light following the club’s announcement that Chris Yarran and Daniel Rioli had returned to their home states to deal with family matters.

Rioli has flown to the Northern Territory to be with an ill family member but is still considered likely to play in Saturday night’s clash with the Dockers in Perth, although Deledio says they support Rioli taking as much time as he needs.

Yarran, who is yet to play for the Tigers due to injury since his high-profile off-season move from Carlton, has travelled to Western Australia but is expected to return to the club next week.

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