Foley's comeback thrilling Hardwick - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Foley's comeback thrilling Hardwick

Sam Lienert 03/02/2011 07:20:49 PM Comments (0)

Richmond coach Damien Hardwick says he feels like the AFL club received a bonus first-round draft pick this season, with the return of classy midfielder Nathan Foley.

The 25-year-old speedster played just four of the Tigers' past 30 games, while battling a series of lower leg injuries.

But Hardwick said after overcoming those setbacks, Foley was ready to provide a major midfield boost.

"He's actually in full training at the moment, which is a fantastic sign for us, he's played barely any footy for the last two years," Hardwick said.

"We really look forward to welcoming Nathan back, he's such a quality player, part of our leadership group and a guy we're expecting huge things of this year.

"He's effectively a first-round draft pick, he's played for Victoria, a fantastic player and I can't wait to get him back."

The Tigers' second-year coach expected Foley to play in the second round of the pre-season competition.

Richmond planned to field what Hardwick acknowledged was the "bottom end" of their list in Friday night's match against the Indigenous All Stars and again for their February 12 NAB Cup opener against Carlton and Collingwood.

"We want to give those younger guys that probably won't see a lot of action throughout the year another opportunity to show where they're at, to possibly press for selection," Hardwick said.

But AFL-experienced recruits Bachar Houli, from Essendon, and Shaun Grigg, from Carlton, are set to make their Richmond debuts in the round-robin clash with the Blues and Magpies.

Hardwick said the only notable injury absentee from the pre-season competition was expected to be hard-nosed midfielder Daniel Jackson, with hamstring tendonitis, but he should return by the start of the regular season.

He said young indigenous forward Troy Taylor, who skipped the early weeks of pre-season training to return to Alice Springs and deal with "cultural issues", had settled back well and was making up lost ground on fitness.

"We're more than confident he'll be right and put himself in a good place to hopefully make a game of round one," he said.

Hardwick said the Tigers, second-bottom last year, expected a "much-improved" season, with accelerated progress in his second pre-season in charge.

"Last year from a training point of view it was a lot of stop-start, a lot of teaching, a lot of communication from the coaches to the players.

"Whereas this year it's been players effectively coaching themselves, which is a hell of a lot better and the intensity of those sessions has lifted."

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