Star Tigers forward Lynch ruled out of AFL opener

Oliver Caffrey |

Richmond’s Tom Lynch (right) is itching for a long-awaited return to AFL action.
Richmond’s Tom Lynch (right) is itching for a long-awaited return to AFL action.

A bullish Tom Lynch has been ruled out of Richmond’s AFL season-opener but the star forward is aiming to feature in the Tigers’ traditional blockbuster against Carlton.

Despite leaving the door ajar to play in Richmond’s opening-round match against Gold Coast when speaking on Tuesday, Lynch realistically has no chance of tackling his former club on March 9.

The 31-year-old has instead set his sights on trying to take his place against the Blues at the MCG on March 14.

“(Opening round) is going to be a bit tough, especially with the five-day break (after) so I’ll put my focus on round one (against Carlton), or even that Port Adelaide game in round two,” Lynch said as Richmond and Collingwood announced a charity shield pre-season match for Foodbank.

“I’ve clearly missed a lot of football, I need to get some good training under my belt and some conditioning.

“We don’t want to rush back, we want to get as many games this year as we can.”

Lynch has been sidelined since suffering a serious foot injury during Richmond’s round-four loss against the Western Bulldogs last year.

The dual premiership player has had numerous setbacks during a slow and painful recovery, but insists he is over the worst of it.

“My foot bone is completely healed, it’s just the (risk) of soft-tissue,” Lynch said.

“I hadn’t run for nine months, so I need to get some miles back into my legs.

“If we wanted to really push, I could get up … but I want to play for the whole year.”

It will be a new-look Richmond, on and off the field, when Lynch does return.

Adem Yze is entering his first season as coach after becoming Damien Hardwick’s successor, while the Tigers’ forward line will be without retired great Jack Riewoldt.

Key defender Noah Balta has been used up forward across the pre-season, while Jacob Koschitzke is a natural goalkicking prospect after being traded from Hawthorn.

“Noah’s a great talent. He’s at the point of his career where he’s going to take the next step and really develop into a consistent player,” Lynch said.

“At his best, we know how good of a player he is. He’s played a bit of forward and predominantly down back.”