Tigers pick Newman for AFL opener

Former Richmond skipper Chris Newman will play in Thursday night’s season-opener against Carlton just over a fortnight after undergoing heart surgery.

Newman, 32, was diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat after a training incident and underwent a corrective procedure that coach Damien Hardwick initially expected would sideline him for round one.

“His wound has healed incredibly well and he’s trained incredibly well over the course of the last three to four sessions,” Hardwick said after training at Punt Road on Wednesday.

“It’s a relatively common procedure in athletes. There was a bit of an irregularity with his heartbeat and they burn a valve … they go up through the groin.

“It’s not so much the proposition with the heart, it’s more to do with the wound in the groin that needs healing.”

Hardwick said that David Astbury had made a similarly impressive recovery after being stung by a stingray at Port Melbourne beach last week, but the defender was not named in the team or among the three emergencies.

In other Tigers selection news, wingman Kamdyn McIntosh will make his AFL debut after an impressive pre-season campaign.

But mature-age recruit Kane Lambert will have to wait for his chance after he was named as an emergency.

Ben Griffiths was preferred ahead of Tyrone Vickery as the second tall option to partner Jack Riewoldt in attack and former Geelong onballer Taylor Hunt will play his first match for Richmond.

For the Blues, Robbie Warnock failed to come up after a shoulder injury suffered in the second round of the NAB Challenge.

But Bryce Gibbs, who also injured a shoulder in the match against Collingwood in Bendigo, will play.

Liam Jones and Kristian Jaksch will wear the navy blue for the first time after crossing from the Bulldogs and GWS respectively, but ex-Dog Jason Tutt is an emergency.

Jones has been preferred ahead of Levi Casboult, who is also an emergency.

Small forward Clem Smith, taken 60th overall at last year’s draft, will make his AFL debut after an eye-catching NAB Challenge campaign.

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