Richmond coach Damien Hardwick concedes playing Brett Deledio in round one was probably wrong in hindsight but he has backed the decision-making process.
The influential midfielder hasn’t played since the AFL season-opener when he suffered a calf injury against Carlton.
The club initially hoped the calf strain would be a one or two week injury, but each week the All Australian’s forecast return has been pushed out.
Saturday’s match with Geelong will be the fourth Deledio has missed, with no guarantee he will return in round six.
Deledio was a close call for selection in round one and Hardwick said on Thursday the club made an informed decision based on the player’s own feeling and medical staff advice.
“Hindsight’s a wonderful thing isn’t it?” Hardwick said.
“There was a couple of other players on the edge that got through.
“Ninety five per cent of the time we make the right call … in hindsight we’d probably say it was the wrong one.”
At least this week, Hardwick was able to say his vice-captain was making progress towards a return.
Without Deledio, the Tigers have beaten only Brisbane in an underwhelming start to the year.
Their loss to Melbourne stood with the Western Bulldogs defeat of Adelaide as the shock results from round four.
While Crows coach Phil Walsh ordered his team to a pre-dawn beach swim, Hardwick said he didn’t need to spur his players into a response.
“One thing about this group, they’re as disappointed with the performance as what I was,” he said.
“They’re a proud group.
“The great thing about footy is you get the opportunity to put the actions in place.
“The proof will be in the pudding, it’s not what we say, it’s what we do.”
Deledio aside, Hardwick could report good injury news out of Punt Road Oval.
Important defender Troy Chaplin will return after missing the loss with the Demons, with Chris Newman and Dylan Grimes considered after a fitness test.
Hardwick called Chaplin a “good inclusion”.
“He’s a general down there, he marshalls the troops,” he said.
Ty Vickery is also a chance to make his first appearance for the year after a four-goal performance in the VFL.
“He took some really strong contested marks and has been working hard defensively so we’re pleased with his improved effort there,” he said.