Richmond coach Damien Hardwick has declared Brett Deledio’s modified pre-season campaign a success, with the star veteran to play his first game of the NAB Challenge on Thursday night.
The 28-year-old has an ongoing calf complaint that has required careful management, but Hardwick is confident the star midfielder will be able to play every game of the coming season.
The Tigers will field close to their best 22 when they take on Port Adelaide at Etihad Stadium, with Deledio slated to play half the match.
“We’ve had a pretty conservative approach with Brett but we’re looking forward to putting him on the park,” Hardwick said on Tuesday.
“My expectation is that he’ll play every game … we’ve managed it over the past two to three years so it’s something that we’re familiar with.
“It’s one of those things he’ll have to manage for the remainder of his career but we’re pretty confident that our medical staff have got a good grasp of it and they’re confident he’ll get through the whole year.”
In further good news for Richmond, star recruit Chris Yarran has launched himself into calculations for the Tigers’ round one team to play Carlton after impressing on the training track in recent weeks.
Yarran has laboured with a calf issue since crossing from the Blues at the end of last season and wasn’t expected to feature at AFL level until after round six.
“He has come on … he’s come on very well,” Hardwick said.
“His training loads have increased, his ability to cover the ground has improved so he’s thereabouts. He’s made some huge inroads in the last two to three weeks, which is great.
“He’s surprised all of us and we’re looking forward to him playing some footy hopefully early in the season.”
Tyrone Vickery, who didn’t play last week as he recovered from a concussion, has also been cleared to resume.
Hardwick, who is in the last year of his current deal, has been reported to be on the verge of signing a two-year extension but he didn’t shed any light on his contract status on Tuesday.
“It’s probably a bit premature at this stage … we’re still arguing about the colour of the Jeep,” he joked.
“I’m sure once that all gets finalised the club will make a comment.”