Marlion Pickett of the Tigers.
Marlion Pickett of the Tigers.

Shock new role for Tigers’ flag hero

Shaun Grigg was the most unlikely premiership ruckman, and Marlion Pickett could be the next.

 

Richmond is considering aborting the dual-ruck formula which delivered last year's flag and unleashing 184cm Pickett as its understudy.

 

The Tigers have flip-flopped on their ruck strategy for several seasons and still remain unsure whether they will carry both Toby Nankervis and Ivan Soldo into next week's clash against Collingwood.

 

Should coach Damien Hardwick opt for one ruckman, Grand Final hero Pickett is being groomed to play a Grigg-like support role.

 

"We didn't really try Shaun Grigg either (at training), but I throw (Pickett's) name out there just as a possibility because he's one of the more mobile, leaner-type midfielders that can do that," assistant coach Justin Leppitsch said today.

 

"We haven't confirmed that (Soldo and Nakervis) will play, it's still the debate we've been having for about three years and two games.

 

"It changes all the time. We saw in Round 1 when Carlton went with Levi (Casboult), with the injury to (Matthew) Kreuzer, it gave them a bit more mobility. So I think teams are looking now at do you play two?"

 

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Leppitsch hinted that against opponents like Collingwood and West Coast - who the Tigers play in their first block of games - both Nankervis and Soldo were likely to play.

 

That is to take on the tandem acts of Brodie Grundy and Mason Cox (Magpies) and Nic Naitanui and Tom Hickey (Eagles).

 

"It's going to be a week-to-week proposition for us," Leppitsch said.

 

Pickett, 28, was one of the standouts over the normal pre-season and is certain to play as a midfielder every week, regardless of the ruck situation.

The Tigers grinded through full-scale match simulation at Punt Rd today as players desperately fight for places in the Round 2 team.

"We often limit certain types of contact, but it was every man for himself out there today and it was a pretty strong contest," Leppitsch said.

Jack Ross, who is being trialled at halfback, Jack Higgins, Sydney Stack and Jack Graham are all in contention for the final couple of places on the interchange bench.

Veteran Bachar Houli missed Round 1 with a calf strain however is ready to return against the Pies next week.

 

 

Ivan Solod competes with Magpies ruck star Brodie Grundy last year. Picture: Michael Klein
Ivan Solod competes with Magpies ruck star Brodie Grundy last year. Picture: Michael Klein

 

 

Leppitsch said Melbourne's chilly winter could also impact selection.

 

"Often the first month is much faster, but is it still going to be that way this month, given the temperature we may be playing in?" he said.

 

"Is it going to be back to the midst of winter-type footy where it's a bit more hard and competitive? I think we're all still a little unsure.

 

"That tends to lean to which way you go on the selection table as well."

 

The Tigers have refused to stand down any of their assistants and will go into Round 2 with nine coaches included in the club's 25-man football department.

 

"Obviously being an assistant coach I'm pumped the club went that way," Lepptisch said.

 

"But not an easy time for administrators in our game to make calls on who their favourite staff are when realistically I know they want to employ everybody."

Originally published as Shock new role for Tigers' flag hero



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