- from afl.com.au
RICHMOND vice-captain Jack Riewoldt is set to return for the club's top-four clash with Geelong, fresh in the knowledge the Tigers can do just fine without him.
The dual Coleman medallist watched Richmond's 29-point win over Hawthorn on Sunday from the coaches' box, after a third medical opinion on his injured eye finally ruled him out for a second match.
The Tigers' spread of contributors was on show up forward, where they had eight goalkickers – led by Josh Caddy's career-best four – and 14 players take a mark inside 50.
Coach Damien Hardwick successfully worked a large rotation through his attacking end, with stars Dustin Martin, Caddy and Trent Cotchin among those to play as the deepest forward. Caddy had eight of Richmond's 28 scoring shots in his best game for Richmond.
"It was good to get a different look … (and I was) really pleased with the way the guys shared the ball around and played for each other," Hardwick told reporters.
"It was pretty impressive. I'm not sure how many marks (inside 50) we had at the end of the game (20), but we had 11 to half-time.
"Against a side like Hawthorn, who do zone behind the ball really well – I think they've really improved that part of their game – (it was a good result) and a guy like (James) Sicily, geez, he's improved as a player, that guy."
Hardwick said he struck a better balance between Caddy's time in the middle and up forward after tilting too much to the latter last week against the Gold Coast. The former Cat amassed 28 disposals, 17 scoring involvements and six inside 50s in a best-on-ground showing.
Hardwick was still looking forward to welcoming back Riewoldt, the team's leading goalkicker this year with 42, but stopped short of guaranteeing he would be passed fit to face Geelong on Saturday.
"The fact we can kick a winning score with Jack being out of the side is exciting for us, but the great thing about Jack is just his leadership and influence," he said.
"We can move Jack around, which is pleasing, but it's still good to have that beacon down forward we can kick to and can kick us goals.
"He's a really important part of our structure – we know that, we understand that – but it's probably good to see those other guys step up … (and take) a little bit of leadership responsibility when Jack wasn't there."
Caddy, Prestia (31 possessions, eight clearances) and blossoming defender Dylan Grimes all received rich praise from Hardwick, who expects his players to "embrace" the task of travelling to Simonds Stadium.
The Cats will be without Joel Selwood (ankle), but regain reigning Brownlow medallist Patrick Dangerfield from his one-week suspension.
"We're enjoying the challenge at the moment and enjoying the struggle of the AFL season," Hardwick said.
"It's been an incredible season so far, and our players have really enjoyed that, behind Trent (Cotchin), Jack and Alex (Rance). It's going to be a big game down the highway, but we don't hide from any opponent.
"It's a big challenge down there, but they are beatable. We certainly have to play our best footy to get that (win)."