Tigers upgrade Castagna

JJJJRICHMOND will elevate rookie Jason Castagna to the senior on Wednesday, with the speedy forward likely to face Carlton in this week’s season-opening clash.

Castagna has been rewarded for an exciting pre-season campaign for the Tigers in the JLT Community Series that included a three-goal haul against Adelaide.

The Tigers have room to upgrade two rookies to their senior list, with Castagna, who played five games last season, to fill one vacancy.

“We’ll lodge the paperwork this morning and Jason Castagna will be upgraded,” said coach Damien Hardwick.

“The other [spot] we’ll probably leave at this stage from a flexibility point of view. Mabior Chol has been very handy in that position, Ivan Soldo has showed some signs as well, so we’ll leave the other option open at this stage.”

Richmond will enter its Thursday night clash with the Blues as a slightly new-look side, with three recruits – Dion Prestia, Josh Caddy and Toby Nankervis – to play and Dan Butler to make his debut.

Hardwick said the club’s pre-season had been built around getting the side off to a strong start to the year, after poor beginnings to the past three seasons.

The Tigers won the season-opening meeting with the Blues last year before losing their next six games, and Hardwick is hoping a shift over summer will pay off.

“We probably, over the course of the last four or five years, have had indifferent starts and we did go back and look at some figures and we felt our best start to the season may have been 2013,” he said.

“It was four practice matches and the majority of our list played two-and-a-half or three games. We tried to get more minutes into our guys this year hoping it then transfers into the regular season.

“We have adjusted that, so once again we’ll get to see the dividends of that hopefully on Thursday night.”

The Tigers also enter the contest with the fittest list of Hardwick’s time at the club, with the coach saying 43 players were available for selection against the Blues.

“Our fitness and strength and conditioning staff have done a wonderful job in getting those guys available, and it’s been a really tough process at match committee. The magnets have been flying around non-stop, and it’s a great place to be,” he said.