Tigers back rookie ruckman against Bombers

Callum Coleman-Jones (left) is poised to make his AFL debut for Richmond against Essendon.
Callum Coleman-Jones (left) is poised to make his AFL debut for Richmond against Essendon.

Faced with his latest AFL personnel crisis, Richmond coach Damien Hardwick will do what he's done all season - back in a Tiger cub to get the job done.

On this occasion ruckman Callum Coleman-Jones is the youngster who will step into the breach, the 19-year-old makes his AFL debut in Saturday night's Dreamtime at the 'G clash with Essendon at the MCG.

The club's ruck stocks took a hit at the AFL tribunal on Tuesday night when seldom-used Ivan Soldo joined injured No.1 ruckman Toby Nankervis on the sidelines.

Soldo's suspension in his first game of the season continued a run of bad luck for Richmond this year that has seen injured premiership stars including Alex Rance, Jack Riewoldt and Trent Cotchin miss substantial amounts of football.

But the Tigers are set up for a top-four assault with a 6-3 record, thanks in no small part to the ability of inexperienced players like Noah Balta, Sydney Stack and Shai Bolton to step up.

"It's been really exciting. It's amazing when players step up to fill the void," Hardwick said.

"Our expectation is that those players rise to the challenge and they have done at every step so far."

Balta has impressed with his raw athleticism in stints as a back-up ruckman but Hardwick said it would probably be "a little bit crazy" not to give the 19-year-old some support in the role.

Daniel Rioli will get to wear the Dreamtime guernsey he and his family designed after coming back from a week off with a sore thigh and ribs via the VFL.

"He was playing a little bit banged up and even last week he wasn't quite sure if he was right to play so he played at the lower level," the coach said.

"But we put him through the middle and he chased and tackled, which was exactly what we were after from him.

"He's so important to the way that we play and is certainly a barometer for how we play so we welcome him back."

Kane Lambert picked up an injury in last week's win over Hawthorn and departs the team with Soldo.

Australian Associated Press