Damien Hardwick resisted the urge to make wholesale changes to his under-performing Richmond side this week, but the coach made it clear a substandard effort against Port Adelaide will have consequences.
The embattled Tigers welcomed back Brett Deledio and Shaun Hampson from injury for Saturday night’s clash at the MCG, with Alex Rance (suspension) and Jacob Townsend (omitted) departing the side beaten by Melbourne.
The struggling Power made five changes, losing Robbie Gray (hamstring), Jackson Trengove (suspension) and Chad Wingard (concussion) and axing Matthew Lobbe and Karl Amon.
While Hardwick’s hands have been tied at the selection table by injury to a certain extent, he said it would be wrong to assume his players had gotten off lightly after a 1-4 start to the season.
“We put the acid on players on a weekly basis with players on their performance – they get rated incredibly heavily,” Hardwick said.
“We forensically examine their games and they get adequate feedback on a weekly basis, so the acid is always there.
“It’s a performance-based industry – if you don’t perform you play seconds football.
“We’ve dropped a number of guys this year because of that … the players know they’re paid to perform.”
Jack Riewoldt was named in the side after recovering strongly from a badly rolled ankle and Hardwick is confident his star forward will line up against Port, who at 2-3 have also failed to live up to expectations so far this season.
“It is a very important game this week … no doubt about that,” Hardwick said.
“Port Adelaide 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 added Jarman Impey, Dougal Howard, Brendon Ah Chee, Nathan Krakouer and Jared Polec to the side defeated by Geelong last week.