The mullet is back.
Ivan Maric will saddle up as Richmond’s ruck this weekend for the first time in nine AFL rounds.
The 30-year-old, once considered key to the Tigers’ on-field fortunes, has languished in the VFL this season and will play just his third senior match of the year on Friday night against Port Adelaide.
Richmond coach Damien Hardwick said “a touch of the flu” and lingering effects of a knee knock would sideline rival tall Shaun Hampson for the Adelaide Oval match and give Maric his chance.
“It’s great to have the big fella back,” he said.
“He’s been in good form at VFL level … we’re really confident he’ll come in and play well.”
While the fan favourite will resume in the battle of two sides looking to square their ledger at 7-7, Hardwick has warned him not to get too comfortable.
Should Hampson return to fitness, he plans to rotate the pair as the Tigers look to gatecrash the finals.
“Shaun actually performed pretty well and Ivan was probably a little slow to get up and going,” he said.
“He was injured through the pre-season and Shaun just grabbed that spot. Possession is nine tenths of the law.
“Sometimes you need a taller ruck; sometime you need more mobile. We’ll pick and choose when both are available.”
Daniel Rioli will also return this week but in Richmond’s reserves outfit after missing last week’s win over Brisbane to attend his grandfather’s funeral.
Hardwick said he’d given instructions to the livewire 19-year-old to get plenty of the ball.
“We’ll push him a little bit more on-ball so he can get some more touches (and) get his form back up to the level that we’d like it to be,” he said.