Hampson to cover Maric in AFL opener

Former Carlton ruck Shaun Hampson is set to get first crack at his old club, with Ivan Maric all but ruled out of Richmond’s season opener at the MCG on Thursday night.

Hampson, who joined Richmond in 2014, earned the start with some solid form in the NAB Challenge against Port Adelaide.

“We’re really excited to see what he has to offer,” Tigers coach Damien Hardwick said.

“He has elite numbers from a hit-out perspective.

“He’s going to give us first use of the ball we feel for the majority of the night so we’re going to ride Shaun and see how he goes.”

As well as Maric (back) the Tigers are missing gun midfielder Brett Deledio (quad) but Hardwick says it opens up opportunities for other quality players.

Hardwick said Deledio could have played if the Tigers had a Monday game.

“We’ve got significant depth so it’s great to give some of those guys an opportunity,” he said.

Chris Yarran, another former Blue, arrived at Punt Road oval on crutches following foot surgery on Monday.

Hardwick said the operation was a “blessing in disguise” even though Yarran will be out for at least six weeks.

“He’s been not able to train at AFL intensity with the plantar fascia, so we’re probably pleased that he’s had the operation done,” Hardwick said.

“He’s a long-term prospect for us and he’ll be able to help us in the back end of the year.”

The coach forecast some new faces in the Tigers line-up and said 18-year-old first-round draft pick Daniel Rioli was a possibility.

Hardwick expects the 2015 wooden-spooners will be no pushover.

“Carlton have played pretty well against Hawthorn and Sydney while in the Essendon game they had a significant amount of players out.

“They’re going to see a good Carlton outfit out there on Thursday night and our boys are prepared for that.”

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