Key Tigers ready to go for AFL opener

Richmond coach Damien Hardwick says key duo Trent Cotchin and Brett Deledio will enter Thursday’s round-one clash against Carlton in peak fitness after carefully managed pre-season programs.

Cotchin (hamstring) and Deledio (Achilles) have been handled with kid gloves at Punt Road, often training away from the main group, in the lead up to the 2015 season, but Hardwick said the pair are ready to release the shackles.

“(Trent’s) raring to go,” Hardwick said on Wednesday.

“You’ve only got to look at his track record from a game perspective – he’s ready to go and he’s going to be a good player for us.”

Deledio worked away from the main group during a light training session on Wednesday, but Hardwick said that was part of the 27-year-old’s routine at this stage of his career.

“He trained yesterday and we never train him two days in a row,” he said.

“He always has the softer session the day before a game.

“He’s raring to go, he looks in good form so we’re looking forward to him making a solid contribution.”

The Tigers have reached the eve of the premiership season in good shape with Chris Newman (heart surgery) and David Astbury (stingray barb) overcoming their recent setbacks.

Hardwick has been impressed with what he’s seen from the Blues over the pre-season and scoffed at suggestions Mick Malthouse’s men were clear underdogs going into Thursday night’s blockbuster at the MCG.

“These round one games … they’re 50-50 games,” he said.

“We’ve just got to make sure we go about playing our best footy, both offensively and defensively, and get the ball going our way.”

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