AFL premier Richmond enters 2020 with near-clean bill of health Marlion Pickett was one of the stories of 2019 after playing one game. And the tale could be about to get even better, if Tigers match simulation is any indication. Plus intel on Dustin Martin and Jack Higgins.
Reigning premier Richmond is on track to start its premiership defence in full health.
In a warning for the rest of the competition, the Tigers were missing only three senior players as they completed 35 minutes of match simulation in hot conditions at Punt Rd on Thursday.
Other than ruckman Toby Nankervis (groin), hard nut Jack Graham (shoulder) and rebounding defender Kamdyn McIntosh (ankle) all the big guns were out there, with Dustin Martin playing about 70 per cent forward.
In the opening passage of play, skipper Trent Cotchin burst out of the centre square and hit the dual Norm Smith Medalist on the chest 30m out.
Even goalsneak Jack Higgins, who had a second bout of brain surgery last year, continued his remarkable recovery completing the whole session largely in the midfield.
Things are looking good for an early return for Higgins.
Grand Final hero Marlion Pickett showed he has more tricks than a brilliant blind turn, pulling out a wicked sidestep on another darting run down the middle early on in the piece.
Looking completely comfortable on the wing and in the centre square, the mature-age revelation looked like a man set to play 20 games in his second season of AFL in 2020.
What an incredible story he is, playing in a premiership in his only senior match.
But this year, Pickett seems almost certain to become a regular member of the senior team.
That’s despite the club’s ridiculous depth.
Sydney Stack and Shai Bolton both showed flare in the forward half yesterday, while livewire Liam Baker was another who was prominent off half back, seemingly taking up some of the slack from departed flanked Brandon Ellis.
Key defenders David Astbury, Nathan Broad and Dylan Grimes had things sorted down back as part of a defence which will be once again missing superstar Alex Rance.
Twin towers Jack Riewoldt and Tom Lynch led the forward set up alongside Martin, while Ivan Soldo took charge in the ruck as Nankervis completed run-throughs on the sidelines.
Nankervis and Graham are expected to be back in full training in coming weeks.