Lynch to have final say on Tigers debut
Damien Hardwick says Tom Lynch will make his own decision about when he is ready to return, happy to play him in Round 1 without a warm-up game.
The Tigers free agency acquisition is in full training after a PCL reconstruction and has ticked every box the doctors require as he builds his workload.
Hardwick said the 26-year-old had the option of a VFL clash before Round 1 but noted "Buddy Franklin doesn't play many VFL games".
The Tigers escaped without injury in a 16.17 (113) to 16.5 (101) JLT Series win over Melbourne in Shepparton, with Dustin Martin uninjured despite a nasty scare when his knee seemed to buckle on him.
The Demons had 10 or more first-choice players missing, but Simon Goodwin declared Steven May a certain starter in next week's JLT clash against Brisbane.
Jake Melksham, Nathan Jones and Jack Viney will also play next week after interrupted pre-seasons, although that trio could come back through the VFL.
The Demons lost Jeff Garlett with a dislocated shoulder, but hope the speed it went back into its socket might mean he does not require surgery.
Melbourne more than held its own as Angus Brayshaw and Clayton Oliver shared 69 possessions and ex-VFL recruit Marty Hore put in another Round 1 audition at half-back.
Hardwick was bemused by the quality of the AFL's new message boards, which don't seem to work in harsh sunlight.
He was also less than thrilled that Clayton Oliver under the new rules could easily milk a double 50m penalty from Dan Butler as he tried to run alongside him after an initial transgression.
But for the Tigers, a Round 1 clash featuring Tom Lynch has much more importance than the AFL's rule changes.
"He's in full training. Tom is one of those guys where he has played eight years of AFL footy," Hardwick said.
"He will come to me and tell me when he's ready to go. The medicos are really happy with where he is at so once he feels confident that he can play, I will be slotting his magnet on the forward.
"He has a great understanding of his body and we are really in his hands. When he is ready he will let us know.
"He could play without a (warm-up) game, he's a quality player. An All Australian. Buddy Franklin doesn't play many VRL games so he's in that echelon.
"We may have a game available with our VFL side but we will wait and see."
The Tigers take on Hawthorn next Saturday night in Launceston ahead of their season opener against Carlton.
Melbourne was able to jump Richmond then keep in touch late without Jones, Melksham, May, Viney, Jake Lever and Mitch Hannan while also resting Max Gawn, Neville Jetta, Aaron vandenBerg and Jordan Lewis.
"(Viney and Jones) will play in some form next week, most likely the VFL," Goodwin said.
"May is in as well, so we have a host of players coming back and available which is exciting for our footy club.
"We bought May to our footy club to play a really important role for us. He has had a really good summer and had a slight hamstring four weeks ago but he's done a hell of a lot of work and he's ready to go next week (against Brisbane)."