Sport AFL Melbourne’s AFL parade lost to virus

Melbourne’s AFL parade lost to virus

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Three-time Richmond premiership coach Damien Hardwick says it would be sad if this year’s AFL grand final parade is scrapped, but he understands it’s a necessary move.

The AFL appears set to scrap the tradition grand final parade through the streets of Melbourne’s CBD to the MCG in favour of an alternative COVID-safe event.

There are still doubts as to where the grand final will be played due to Victoria’s recent COVID-19 outbreak, but the AFL is hopeful it will still go ahead at the MCG.

However, the traditional parade, which normally attracts tens of thousands of fans, will be scrapped.

“One of the greatest things of the grand final week is that it is a celebration and it’s a people’s event,” Hardwick said.

“It is sad that it will possibly be taken away, but I’m sure they’ll look to rectify it as soon as they can

“Unfortunately it’s the space we’re in at the moment. I’m sure it will be addressed over the coming years when things hopefully settle down.

“People make the decisions for the benefit of the herd, so we’ll have to wait and see how it pans out.”

Richmond have won three of the past four flags, but it faces an almighty battle just to make the finals in 2021 after losing five of its past six matches to drop to 10th.

The Tigers (8-10) will be aiming to bounce back to form when they take on injury-hit Fremantle (8-10) at Optus Stadium on Sunday.

The Dockers were dealt a huge triple blow after skipper Nat Fyfe (shoulder), Alex Pearce (concussion) and Michael Walters (hamstring) were all cut down by injury.

Richmond welcomes back midfielder Dion Prestia from a hamstring injury and his inclusion could free up Shai Bolton to spend more time in attack.

Bolton has spent more time in the midfield in recent times to fill the injury gaps, but the Tigers have missed his attacking presence up forward.

“Our challenge with Shai is we like him in a number of areas of the ground whether it’s forward or midfield,” Hardwick said.

“We’ve probably asked him to do a little bit more work at various stages in the middle part of the ground which has taken away a little bit of our scoring power at the same time.

“Dion back allows for that to happen (Bolton playing forward more).

“But we do love [Bolton’s] agility and ability to win the ball and get it going forward around the clearances. It will be a combination of both moving forward.”

Star Richmond midfielder Dustin Martin, who suffered a season-ending lacerated kidney earlier in July, is still in Queensland and must pass more medical tests before being granted permission to fly back to Melbourne.