Richmond’s hopes for a flying start to the AFL season have suffered a blow, with vice-captain Brett Deledio ruled out for round one.
The Tigers confirmed speculation that the All-Australian utility is injured and they will not risk him for the Easter Thursday blockbuster against Carlton at the MCG.
“Brett has experienced some tightness in his quadriceps and was restricted to running laps yesterday,” Richmond football manager Dan Richardson told the club website.
“He is unlikely to train for the full session tomorrow, meaning he will not be risked on Thursday night.”
Richmond will start strong favourites against the resetting Blues, but they have a tough draw through to their round-10 match against Essendon.
After Carlton, their next five weeks are resurgent Collingwood, grand finalists West Coast in Perth, improving Melbourne, Port Adelaide at home and then premiers Hawthorn.
Deledio’s importance to the Tigers was emphasised in the first few weeks of last season.
He came back too quickly and aggravated a calf injury in the round-one win over Carlton.
The Tigers lost four of their next five games, 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.
Richmond won 13 out of 16 matches to make the top eight, only to lose their third-straight elimination final.
After his return to the team, Deledio conceded he should have sat out the season opener.
“I’m still happy I did play because I felt I played my part to help the boys get the win,” Deledio said last May.
“But if I had have known I was going to miss four weeks after that, I probably would’ve missed.”
Given that history, there was no way Richmond were going to risk Deledio for round one.
Separate leg injuries had meant Deledio only played in their third NAB Challenge match and he needed smooth run to ensure he would play against the Blues.
The Tigers already have lost Reece Conca for 10 weeks with a severe hamstring injury.
Carlton recruit Chris Yarran needs foot surgery and is out of action for six weeks.