Richmond are bracing for the full wrath of an Essendon outfit out to prove a point after having their hardness questioned both internally and externally.
The 16th-placed Bombers (2-7) have had to endure a barrage of criticism after Sydney’s Luke Parker mocked Dylan Shiel for backing out of a contest, with no remonstration from the midfielder’s Essendon teammates.
The incident in the 58-point thrashing prompted coach Ben Rutten on Thursday to say his charges had lacked a consistent “hard edge” across the season and demanded a response in Saturday’s Dreamtime at the G clash.
“We expect a really hardened outfit,” Richmond veteran Jack Riewoldt said.
“Obviously, they’re not going as well as they would have liked to be going but football is a fickle game.
“You’re five per cent off or you’re five per cent further on the results can change pretty quickly.
“We expect a really hardened Essendon Football Club to come out and fire shots early. So it’s very prudent of us to be ready to go.”
Richmond spearhead Tom Lynch has been in ominous form and shapes as a tough task for Essendon’s defence.
The challenge became harder for the Bombers on Friday when gun defender Jordan Ridley withdrew via the AFL’s COVID-19 protocols, with flanker Tom Cutler recalled.
“I don’t think I’ve seen him in better form. He’s really confident at the moment,” Riewoldt said.
“You just look at the way he’s launching at the ball with his body, it fills us with a lot of confidence that we can kick the ball to him.
“The majority of time he’s winning these contests but also halving them and not getting beaten and then giving guys a chance on the ground.
“I hold a very special place for Lynchy. When I think about his game, he’s copped some criticism here and there and I love seeing him perform on the big stage.”
Triple-premiership Tiger Riewoldt made his AFL debut against Essendon in 2007 and will play in his 14th Dreamtime match.