There will be more on the line for Richmond’s VFL footballers than trying to qualify for the 2017 grand final when they run out onto North Port Oval on Saturday.
The Tigers do battle with the Box Hill Hawks in the second preliminary final at the famous Port Melbourne ground and while helping Richmond reach their first VFA/VFL grand final in 112 years is the aim, keeping heat on their senior teammates at the selection table is certainly a motivation as well.
Nineteen AFL-listed Richmond players will be playing for the VFL team this weekend in what is not only a strong indication of the club’s depth but also a big tick for the club’s high-performance team with only Nathan Drummond (knee) on the Tigers’ injury list.
The senior Richmond side plays either Greater Western Sydney or West Coast in next week’s AFL second preliminary final at the MCG and while changes to the side that smashed Geelong by 51 points don’t look likely, the VFL players will be desperate to give the selection committee a few things to ponder.
Sam Lloyd, Shaun Hampson and Oleg Markov were the emergencies for Richmond’s qualifying final against Geelong last week and are all playing in Saturday’s VFL preliminary final.
That trio would appear to be at the front of the queue if Richmond decided to make any changes next week, although in Hampson’s case, an injury to first-choice ruckman Toby Nankervis is his only hope of returning to the senior side.
Markov, who has played seven games this season, was the unlucky sole omission for the Tigers who welcomed back Josh Caddy for the big clash with the Cats.
Short (16) has played the most AFL games this year of any of the Richmond players who will line up against Box Hill.
The 21-year-old played every game from round two to 18 but was dropped after a modest performance against the Giants at the MCG.
The winner of the Richmond-Box Hill preliminary final will face either Williamstown or Port Melbourne in the VFL grand final at Etihad Stadium next Sunday.