Cellar dweller to Weller feller at Tigers


The Tigers will look closely at whether new forward Tom Lynch is ready for round one but if, as seems likely, the highly prized recruit does not come up for the opening match it is likely athletic tall Noah Balta will make his debut. Also potentially in line for a debut for Richmond is big-bodied inside midfielder Jack Ross, a second-round draftee last year.

Richmond will be without the injured Shaun Grigg, Jason Castagna and Josh Caddy.

The selection moves come as Richmond revealed premiership pair Nick Vlastuin and Daniel Rioli had both re-signed for two more years at the club.

Fasolo, who broke his wrist in a late-night incident, performed well in his last outing in the VFL and has been exemplary in his training and preparation since the injury.

He has significant big-game experience from his time with the Magpies while Setterfield and Walsh will bolster the Blues’ midfield, which has been heavily reliant on Patrick Cripps.

Newman is needed across half-back, where the Blues have lost skipper Sam Docherty.

Gibbons, who can play across half-forward as a pressure player, booted three goals against Essendon in the first JLT outing.

Michael Gibbons.Credit:Justin McManus

McGovern, who joined the Blues on a long-term deal, can play at either end, but has been deployed in attack in pre-season.

Walsh has been a standout in pre-season for a first-year player and is a heavy favourite for the rising star award.

Setterfield, a former high draft pick and academy player from the Giants, has also shown solid form in pre-season and will add size to the midfield that is often brushed aside by more mature teams.

Weller fell victim to St Kilda’s poor season and niggling injuries that kept him at the fringe of the team last year. Out of contract at season’s end, Weller was a list casualty of being a middle-aged player in a team that had a poor year.

The forward and midfielder who began his career at Gold Coast was recruited as a depth player by the Tigers but looks likely to have pushed his way into the team for round one.

‘‘I think I have a lot of good footy left in me, I had a couple of little injuries this year and I think the collective form of the team affected [my situation],’’ Weller told The Age in October last year after being cut by the Saints.

‘‘I think I have a lot to offer a team, especially one knocking on the door of the finals where I can go in and just play a role and not worry about getting the most out of the other blokes, which is the role I played at St Kilda this year.

‘‘If I can go somewhere and just play a role and contribute I think I can offer something.’’

Weller played 89 games for the Saints after crossing from the Suns at the end of 2013 where he had played 32 games.

Michael Gleeson is an award-winning senior sports writer specialising in AFL and athletics.

Jake Niall is a Walkley award-winning sports journalist and chief AFL writer for The Age. He writes news, commentary and analysis on a variety of other sports.

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