“Obviously with his injury history we’ve got to be careful to manage that. He’s had a great training block. His speed is incredible at the moment, he’s back above what he was playing at before.”
Richmond’s opponents have been boosted by the return of Toby Greene and have also named Sam Jacobs and Daniel Lloyd.
Bobby Hill and Jackson Hatley are omitted and Shane Mumford is injured.
The Tigers have named father-son winger Patrick Naish for his third AFL game with Josh Caddy out injured.
While Jack Higgins and Daniel Rioli were both been cleared to take on the Giants, defender David Astbury has suffered a setback as he vies to return from a knee injury.
“It didn’t settle as we would like,” Hardwick said. “He looked highly probable to play and it took a bit of a turn for the worse. He obviously won’t play this game, probably very unlikely he won’t play the Bulldogs game, and then thereafter we’ll have to wait and see.”
However even when Astbury does return, Hardwick said it wouldn’t be at the expense of emerging tall defender Noah Balta.
“We think for us to be a really good side, Noah has to be in the side. With David coming back in, we’re looking to keep all those guys in the side at the same time,” Hardwick said.
With the glut of matches coming up, Hardwick flagged opportunities for untested youngsters Riley Collier-Dawkins and Thomson Dow, as well as Jack Ross and Sydney Stack, both of whom narrowly missed selection for last year’s grand final.
Hardwick also paid tribute to former Richmond player Shane Tuck, who died suddenly earlier this week.
Tuck was a regular senior during Hardwick’s early years at Punt Road.
“We spoke about it as a group at length,” he said. “He’ll certainly be with us on the weekend.
“I can only remember him as the warrior that he was. I remember there was a game over in Adelaide. We were short a rotation. He actually broke his scapula. He went back on the ground, we said, ‘Listen, just stay in the goal square.’ He was meant to just stay in the goal square but I remember him chase outside 50, he did a diving tackle. It just sums him up.”