Tigers could lose Maric for AFL opener

Richmond’s No.1 ruckman Ivan Maric is the latest Tigers star set to miss their AFL opener because of injury.

Teammate Jack Riewoldt confirmed on Monday night that Maric is in serious doubt for the Easter Thursday match against Carlton because of a back problem.

Earlier on Monday, vice-captain Brett Deledio was ruled out with a tight quad muscle.

Shaun Grigg (thumb) is also an unlikely starter, while Chris Yarran (foot surgery) and Reece Conca (hamstring) are out of action for several weeks.

“Ivan has a little bit of a sore back,” Riewoldt told 3AW.

“I know at the moment he’s given his all to really give himself every chance of playing on Thursday night.

“(But) we’re not going to go into round one with any players who are unprepared or under any injury cloud.

“As much as we’d love to Ivan … it’s a marathon, not a sprint, and we won’t be risking any players in round one, just because it’s round one and the start of the season.”

Maric’s absence would leave Ty Vickery, Ben Griffiths and former Carlton ruckman Shaun Hampson as the candidates to ruck against Blues star Matthew Kreuzer.

Richmond admit they are unsure whether Deledio will play in round two against Collingwood as their star utility recovers from another leg injury.

“We’d expect him to be available, but these things can change, as well as we’ve seen even over the last few days.”

Richardson added there was no specific incident that caused the injury.

Deledio admitted last year he probably should not have played in the round-one game against the Blues.

He aggravated a calf muscle injury in the match and was out of action for the next four games.

This time, the Tigers are taking no chances.

“Lids will be unlikely to play this week – he’s had some tightness in his quad over the last few days,” Richardson said.

“Hence you saw yesterday, he was on a restricted program.

“At this stage, we don’t think he’ll be any better tomorrow, so we won’t take the risk.”

Richardson doubts it will be an ongoing issue.

“I wouldn’t think it will be too big a deal during the course of the year … we’d expect him to be fine,” he said.

Richmond will start strong favourites against the resetting Blues, but they have a tough draw through to their round-10 match against Essendon.

Deledio’s importance to the Tigers was emphasised in the first few weeks of last season.

The Tigers lost four of their next five games after beating Carlton, with Deledio sidelined for four of them.

He was outstanding for the rest of the season, finishing with 27 goals, earning his second All-Australian selection and taking third in the club best and fairest voting.

Meanwhile, Richardson said Shane Edwards could recover from his shoulder injury in time to play against Carlton.

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