Richmond consider Pickett for ruck duties

Another extraordinary chapter could be added to the Marlion Pickett story with Richmond’s grand final hero a chance to ruck when the Tigers restart their AFL premiership defence.

Pickett, at just 184cm, could be thrust into ruck duels when the Tigers reboot the season against Collingwood next Thursday night.

The Tigers are weighing up whether to select two ruckmen or search for extra run to cope with shortened quarters during the coronavirus-affected season.

Richmond have a history of throwing undersized players into the ball-ups, with midfielder Shaun Grigg famously doing that job when the Tigers broke their 37-year premiership drought in 2017.

Tigers assistant coach Justin Leppitsch said big men Toby Nankervis and Ivan Soldo impressed during a match simulation session at Punt Rd on Thursday but their performances might not be enough to guarantee a spot in the best 22.

“We liked the look of both rucks out there today but we’ve got some options; whether we play the old Shaun Grigg role with a Marlion Pickett,” Leppitsch told reporters.

“All those things are getting tossed up.

“I think the idea with Grigg is that he didn’t compete that heavily in the ruck contest, it was more about having the extra midfielder and using his smarts to get an advantage out of that.

“You’re never going to get a hit-out advantage with an undersized ruckman.

“We didn’t really try Shaun Grigg (in the ruck at training) either.

“I throw (Pickett’s) name out there because he’s one of the more mobile leaner type midfielders who could do that.”

If Pickett does contest ruck duties against the Magpies he will be giving up almost 20cm in height to All-Australian ruckman Brodie Grundy.

Collingwood’s ruck-forward Mason Cox is even taller than Grundy at 211cm.

The round two clash on June 11 will be just Pickett’s third AFL game after he backed up his dream grand final debut against GWS last September with 14 possessions against Carlton in March’s season opener.

Meanwhile, two-time premiership defender Bachar Houli is ready to return after missing round one with a calf injury.

Small forward Jack Higgins is a genuine chance to play against the Magpies after undergoing brain surgery last year.

Higgins, along with Jack Ross, Sydney Stack and Jack Graham are all fighting it out for spots in the Tigers’ matchday squad.

“(Higgins) was probably one of the best players for the other team (in match simulation) so he really put his hand up,” Leppistch said.





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