Richmond Tigers captain Trent Cotchin has been withdrawn from Thursday evening’s season opener after being struck down by a bout of gastro.
The defending premiers will face Carlton at the MCG for their round one encounter, the first AFL match in Victoria with spectators since the 2019 Grand Final.
The Tigers are set to unfurl two premiership flags in front of a sellout crowd at the iconic venue, with a 50 per cent capacity limit in place.
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But as first revealed by footy reporter Sam Edmund, Cotchin was in serious doubt to play hours out from the highly-anticipated contest.
According to the report, the 30-year-old did not train with teammates during a light session on Wednesday.
The Age’s Daniel Cherny tweeted on Thursday afternoon: “Richmond said this morning that Trent Cotchin was not in doubt, but things have gone downhill since then and there is now major doubt over his availability.”
Thursday’s game will also provide AFL fans with their first glimpse of the controversial medical substitution rule, which was announced on Wednesday.
Carlton has not recorded a win against Richmond in the AFL since the 2013 post-season, where the Tigers were knocked out in an elimination final. Since then, Richmond has won 10 consecutive games against the Blues.
Unfortunately for Carlton, a cluster of injuries has damaged their chances of ending the eight-year drought on Thursday evening.
Veteran small forward Eddie Betts is still recovering from a calf complaint, while Charlie Curnow (knee) and Mitch McGovern (hamstring) will also be unavailable for the round one fixture.
New recruit Zac Williams will have to wait for his debut game with the Blues after copping a one-match suspension for a high bump on St Kilda’s Hunter Clark during the AAMI Community Series.
However, young midfielder Lachie Fogarty and former Bomber Adam Saad are expected to make their Carlton debuts.
Meanwhile, Richmond look set to field a near full-strength side at the MCG, with Bachar Houli and Cotchin the only notable absentees from the 22 announced on Wednesday.
The first bounce is scheduled for 7:25pm AEDT.
RICHMOND VS CARLTON TEAM
B: D.Astbury, D.Grimes, N.Balta
HB: L.Baker, N.Vlastuin, J.Short
C: D.Prestia, T.Cotchin, K.Lambert
HF: J.Aarts, S.Bolton, J.Castagna
F: T.Lynch, D.Martin, J.Riewoldt
FOLL: T.Nankervis, K.McIntosh, J.Caddy
I/C: D.Rioli, N.Broad, J.Graham, S.Edwards
EMG: M.Pickett, W.Martyn, J.Ross, M.Chol
B: L.Plowman, L.Jones, T.Williamson
HB: S.Docherty, J.Weitering, A.Saad
C: W.Setterfield, P.Cripps, M.Murphy
HF: L.Fogarty, H.McKay, J.Newnes
F: Z.Fisher, J.Silvagni, M.Gibbons
FOLL: M.Pittonet, P.Dow, S.Walsh
I/C: S.Petrevski-Seton, L.O’Brien, L.Casboult, E.Curnow
EMG: M.Cottrell, O.McDonald, L.Stocker, M.Kennedy