North Melbourne have named Todd Goldstein to take on Richmond on Friday night in their AFL clash in Hobart, but Majak Daw remains on standby if the All Australian ruckman can’t overcome a sore knee.
Goldstein has been restricted to light duties this week after copping a knock in last week’s loss to Sydney, with Daw named as an emergency.
Coach Brad Scott admitted there was some doubt over Goldstein’s availability this week, but Tigers coach Damien Hardwick wasn’t basing his side’s preparation around one player, regardless of his quality.
“He’s a significant player … he’s the best ruckman, in my opinion, in the league,” Hardwick said.
“It probably does change their prep but the fact of the matter is they’re sitting on top of the ladder for a reason and it’s not just because of one player.
“They’re an incredible outfit.”
Hardwick’s men are looking for their fourth win in a row when they take on the Kangaroos.
North’s unbeaten run stopped at nine last week when they were defeated by the Swans, but they enjoy a good record against Richmond, having won six of their past seven encounters.
“The big one for us is their key forwards have probably been dominant at various stages,” Hardwick said of a Roos’ attack featuring Jarrad Waite, Drew Petrie and Ben Brown.
“Not all of them (together) but one has probably grabbed hold of us at different stages.
“If we can keep those guys under wraps (great), but the reality is it’s going to be won or lost in the midfield.
“Contested ball is going to be big this week, as are clearances.”
The Tigers, who are 14th on the ladder with a 4-6 record after last week’s win over Essendon, have been well served in those areas by skipper Trent Cotchin and Dustin Martin, who is in career-best form.
The Roos’ most recent win against the Tigers came in last year’s elimination final.
It was Richmond’s third elimination final loss in a row, but spearhead Jack Riewoldt said his side wouldn’t be looking to that galling defeat for motivation on Friday.
“That’s the way it went,” Riewoldt said.
“We’re solely focused on 2016 and getting ourselves back in the race. They’re a different side and we’re a different side to last year in the finals.”