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Foley return timely for Richmond

22/08/2008 04:34:10 PM Comments (0)

Richmond have welcomed the return of clearance specialist Nathan Foley to combat a Fremantle side they view as increasingly dangerous at the stoppages.

The Dockers have been criticised in the past for failing to capitalise at ground level on the ruck strength of giant Aaron Sandilands.

But Tigers assistant coach Brian Royal said it was an area in which Fremantle had improved greatly in the last part of the season.

"They're really improved in the hard-ball get area," Royal said.

"Sandilands is having a real dominance in the ruck and from that their clearances have improved as well.

"Certainly (Troy) Simmonds and (Tristan) Cartledge, our ruckmen, have really got to be strong this week against Sandilands, not to give him the dominance in the ruck to allow their midfield area to clean up around the stoppages."

The return of Foley, a late withdrawal with a hip injury from the side that beat Hawthorn last round, will aid Richmond's attempts to maintain that aspect of their game as a strength.

"Nathan's our best clearance player, so it's extremely important that he's playing this weekend," Royal said.

While Foley did some extra one-on-one work at Richmond's brief final training session on Friday, the club was in no doubt he would take his place in the side.

"He's trained all week and as far as we're concerned he's definitely in," Royal said.

The Tigers are keen to see how Cartledge, a former Essendon player who came off the rookie list to make his Richmond debut against the Hawks, fares against Sandilands.

Royal also hinted the Tigers might be able to exploit Fremantle's defence, with fullback Antoni Grover undergoing shoulder surgery on Thursday, ending his season.

"It probably makes them a little bit light-on down back, particularly if we wanted to go a little bit taller, but certainly they've got (Luke) McPharlin to go back there to cover," he said.

The Tigers need to win on Saturday, and against Melbourne in the last round, to have a chance of making the finals, depending on the results of other games.

The Dockers have been boosted by the return of midfielders Des Headland and Josh Carr from injury, while Foley's return was Richmond's only change.

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