Tigers ready to go as AFL gets green light

Jason Phelan
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AFL GRAND FINAL 2019

Richmond's Marlion Pickett will encounter another surreal atmosphere when the AFL gets underway

Marlion Pickett's peculiar AFL journey will continue when he plays his second senior game when Richmond take on Carlton in front of the empty grandstands of the MCG.

Just over five months ago, Pickett made a stunning debut in front of 100,014 fans at the same venue as the Tigers romped to their second premiership flag in three seasons with an 89-point grand final thumping of GWS.

Pickett will take the next step in his fledgling career after the premiership season was given the green light amidst the coronavirus crisis following a marathon AFL Commission meeting on Wednesday night.

Richmond made two changes to their premiership line-up, with Jack Graham and Sydney Stack into the side after Brandon Ellis left for Gold Coast and Bachar Houli sustained a calf injury.

Pickett, who turned 28 in January, finished third in the Norm Smith Medal voting in a fairytale debut after he was picked up in the mid-season draft.

With a full pre-season under his belt, the sky's the limit.

"He was comfortable in his environment last year but it's amazing to see him grow in that period over the pre-season and getting to know his teammates better and our system better," Damien Hardwick said on Wednesday.

"He's going to be a good player for us, we know he's going to play an important role for us, it's just great to have someone like him around the footy club.

"To see how much he's grown as a person, I think, is really important."

Jack Ross, Kamdyn McIntosh, Callum Coleman-Jones and Ryan Garthwaite were named as emergencies for the highly-anticipated clash.

For Carlton, co-captain Sam Docherty will play his first match since round 23, 2017, after overcoming two knee reconstructions, with Jack Martin (Gold Coast) and Jack Newnes (St Kilda) to make their club debuts.

Eddie Betts, Charlie Curnow and Harry McKay were among the key players to miss through injury as the new-look Blues run out under David Teague for the first time.

"I'm really looking forward to seeing us grow," Teague said.

"We've still got a lot to do and get better ... we've talked about learning and doing for our mates and doing it for each other.

"Now I'm looking forward to seeing them step up and face the challenge against opposition on the MCG and play the way that we want to play."

The match will be played with shorter 16-minute plus time-on quarters.