Tigers and Blues unveil new boys - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Tigers and Blues unveil new boys

By Guy Hand 23/03/2011 08:08:21 PM Comments (0)

Richmond isn't just drinking from the fountain of youth, it's taking a shower in it.

Coach Damien Hardwick's promise to back young players was fulfilled at the selection table, with three AFL debutants among five newcomers to play Carlton in their season opener at the MCG on Thursday night.

Veterans Shane Tuck and Brad Miller appear to be early victims of the Tigers' "play the kids" policy.

Both have missed selection, with Tuck facing a similar situation to last season when left out of the side for round one.

Experienced ex-Melbourne forward Miller has also been ignored after being promoted from the rookie list.

Instead, the Tigers have called up first round draftee Reece Conca, who joins defender Jake Batchelor and forward Brad Helbig for AFL debuts.

Recycled duo Shaun Grigg and Bachar Houli, both 22, will also play.

Hardwick makes no apologies for testing his younger players' mettle in front of an expected 80,000 crowd.

"My job as a coach of Richmond is to get as many games into a core group of players who can take us forward, so if that's putting five new guys into the thrust of a round one encounter, then that's what we'll do," Hardwick said.

"If those kids have shown that ability to play, they'll play."

At the forefront of those is Conca - a player whose mere mention brings a broad smile to Hardwick's face as he sifts through Richmond's playing list to unearth the future.

Conca, the No.6 pick in the 2010 draft, has been a pre-season standout for the Tigers running off half-back and through the midfield.

Both sides have gone heavy on new recruits.

Carlton, who are without suspended key defender Michael Jamison and injured Paul Bower, have called up mature age defenders Nick Duigan and Jeremy Laidler.

VFL product Ed Curnow has also been handed a debut in midfield.

But the Blues have resisted the temptation to throw in former Richmond player Andrew Collins against his old club.

Collins has been named as an emergency alongside highly-rated draftee Matthew Watson.

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