Fremantle have the chance to ruin Richmond’s top-four aspirations and veteran defender Michael Johnson could hold the key.
The Tigers are guaranteed to finish in the AFL’s top four if they beat Fremantle in Perth and St Kilda at the MCG in their final two matches.
The double finals chance would give the Tigers a strong platform to end their 37-year grand final drought.
On paper, the Dockers look like an easy kill following their 104-point shellacking at the hands of Sydney last week.
But Fremantle have been ultra competitive for most of the year, beating Richmond at the MCG in round eight, and also pushing heavyweights Geelong and GWS all the way.
Alex Rance looms as the key to Richmond’s hopes, and Fremantle coach Ross Lyon appears set to dig into his bag of tricks to curb the influence of the star Tigers defender.
Rance has been tagged by lock-down forwards on several occasions this season, and he had his colours lowered in last week’s loss to Geelong when Harry Taylor used a similar tactic on the way to four goals.
Fremantle are set to follow suit on Sunday, with Lyon throwing up the possibility of playing Johnson as a forward in order to curb the influence of Rance.
“You’ve got to make sure you’ve got a Harry Taylor (type player),” Lyon said.
“He’s been a special player – a big, strong man.
“Michael Johnson might be able to go forward and carry out the role. We’ll have a look at that.”
Although Fremantle’s finals hopes are well and truly over, the match will carry significance given it will be Harley Bennell’s debut for the club.
Bennell has been plagued by career-threatening calf issues since crossing to Fremantle from Gold Coast at the end of 2015.
But he has been given the green light to face the Tigers after making it through four straight WAFL games unscathed.
Fremantle have recalled Ryan Nyhuis and Hayden Crozier, but Shane Kersten (groin) and Lachie Neale (knee) were ruled out. Veteran Danyle Pearce was dropped.
Richmond lost Josh Caddy to a hamstring injury, while Ivan Soldo and Corey Ellis were dropped.
Inside midfielder Jack Graham, the No.53 pick in the 2016 national draft, has been named for his debut, while Jacob Townsend and Oleg Markov have also been called into the side.