Riewoldt, Deledio give Tigers a big boost

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Riewoldt, Deledio give Tigers a big boost

Star Richmond duo Jack Riewoldt and Brett Deledio will be on hand to help the under-siege Tigers attempt to get their AFL season back on track against Port Adelaide on Saturday night.

The news isn’t so good for the embattled Power, who lost stars Robbie Gray (hamstring) and Chad Wingard (concussion) for the crucial clash at the MCG.

Coach Damien Hardwick is very confident Riewoldt will play despite badly rolling his ankle in last week’s loss to Melbourne.

He spoke to reporters on Thursday and confirmed Deledio will play his first AFL game of the season after overcoming a quad injury.

Deledio was named in the side on Thursday night, along with Shaun Hampson, while Alex Rance (suspension) and Jacob Townsend (dropped) depart.

While some doubt must remain over Riewoldt’s fitness, his potential availability is a huge boost for the Tigers as they look to improve on their miserable 1-4 start to the season.

“He pulled up remarkably well,” Hardwick said.

“Jack is very diligent in his recovery … he’s been at the club up and down, icing and all those sort of things that are required from a professional athlete.

“I am very confident he will play.”

Deledio was a late withdrawal against the Demons, Hardwick deciding to err on the side of caution with his star veteran.

“I’m ready and raring to go,” Deledio told RSN Radio.

“I’m itching to get back out there because we haven’t been going that flash. I’m hoping I can help a little bit.

“I haven’t got any thought that the quad is going to pull again.”

Deledio’s availability this week is crucial for the Tigers, who have managed just three wins in the past 14 games they have played in his absence.

But Richmond will miss the influence of Rance as he starts a two-match suspension for his ugly hit on Jack Watts.

Saturday night’s clash is vital for both teams, who have failed to live up to expectations in the first five rounds of the season.

“It is a very important game this week … no doubt about that,” Hardwick said.

“Port Adelaide (2-3) will be saying exactly the same thing. We can’t keep giving sides three to four games head start then expect to try and reel them in.

“We’re going to put everything we are into this game.”

Port coach Ken Hinkley lost patience with out-of-form ruckman Matthew Lobbe, who was dropped, while Jackson Trengove (suspension) and Karl Amon (omitted) are also out of the side defeated by Geelong last week.

Jarman Impey, Dougal Howard, Brendon Ah Chee, Nathan Krakouer and Jared Polec were the inclusions.

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