AAP AFL

Rioli finally returns for Tigers in AFL

By AAP Newswire

Richmond are finally getting the band back together for their massive AFL clash against Geelong at the MCG.

Coach Damien Hardwick has confirmed the Sunday blockbuster will be Daniel Rioli's first AFL game since he broke his foot late in the grand final win over Adelaide.

He is the only member of last year's premiership team yet to play this season.

The hard-tackling small forward has been a key part of Richmond's unusual attack, with Jack Riewoldt the only ever-present tall target and the likes of Rioli, Jason Castagna and Dan Butler at his feet.

Josh Caddy has added to the potent mix with his stellar season.

"He'll bring defensive pressure, there's no doubt - he's going to be rusty ... but we know what a player he can be for us," Hardwick said of Rioli.

"He's one of those players (where) his statistical output doesn't look that great.

"But he makes those players around him better and he makes our system look better.

"It's good to have the band back together, with Castagna and Butler down there as well."

Hardwick also expects Brownlow Medallist Dustin Martin to play, after he missed last week's loss to Port Adelaide with a calf injury.

There is a question mark over defender David Astbury, given he hurt his ankle in the Port loss.

"It was incredibly brave of Dave to play - it blew up straight away and he has Hardwick-like ankles at the moment," said the coach, who was nicknamed Cankles near the end of his playing career.

"We'll see how he goes."

Cats coach Chris Scott is backing his defence - which has managed well in the absence through injury of Harry Taylor and Lachie Henderson - to cope with Richmond's unconventional attack.

"We're pretty comfortable in the group we've got there," he said.

"In some ways it's nice to test ourselves against Richmond at pretty close to full strength."

Two-time All-Australian Taylor will have a rare hitout in the VFL this weekend ahead of his imminent return to senior action after the bye.

Richmond are riding a 15-game winning streak at the MCG.

"They are the best team in the competition at the moment especially at that ground," said Scott.

"We feel like we're building into our season so it will be a good test."