Patrick Cripps was the star of AFLX. Picture: AFL Media
Patrick Cripps was the star of AFLX. Picture: AFL Media

Cripps, Dusty primed for epic showdown

Alex Rance has tipped an explosive Round 1 match-up between Dustin Martin and Patrick Cripps after witnessing the Carlton star's heroics up close on Friday night.

Richmond goes into the MCG clash in 24 days hoping to win its seventh straight Round 1 clash against the Blues.

But a Carlton side with as many as six new faces will also feature the brilliant Cripps, who amassed 36 possessions, 25 contested possessions and nine clearances in Round 1 last year.

Tiger Jack Riewoldt joked he had "created a monster" when pushing Cripps forward in his side's AFLX tournament victory, as the 195cm onballer led all scorers.

But Rance can't wait for the mouth-watering midfield clash between two of the most ferocious ball-winners in the AFL as the league's new 6-6-6 rule adds intensity to centre bounces.

"Watching and running into 'Cripper' a few times (on Friday night), I love that match-up," Rance said.

"He is scary good, Dusty. I wish I had half the talent he had. It's two rhinos going at it, smashing horns."

Martin had just six kicks in Richmond's preliminary final loss last year, his lowest output in his past 117 games, but he is in sparkling touch this pre-season.

The Tigers say Martin is brimming with motivation and stepping up his leadership in his 10th season.

"He's not the type to be dwelling on too much. He knows he is a star," full-back Rance said.

"You don't win Brownlows and premierships off the back of being an also-(ran), so he knows what he brings," Rance said.

Richmond's star recruit Tom Lynch will be touch and go for Round 1.

But Rance said strong-bodied inside midfielder Jack Ross was a chance to make his debut after being taken at pick 43 lastyear.

"Jack Ross is a really neat player. He could be around the mark,'' he said.

Richmond has been able to bank a Round 1 win for the past six seasons. But last year the Blues jumped the then premier andled 5.0 to a point after 11 minutes before being pegged back.

Rance has watched Carlton's list build with interest, aware that Mitch McGovern's recruitment adds another dynamic to itsforward line after Charlie Curnow kicked five Round 1 goals last year.

"Time will tell with (McGovern, Curnow and Harry McKay), knowing when to go and when to lengthen the ground and when to hitup," Rance said.

"Last year we saw equalisation is starting to work. Brisbane are coming up and challenging, and Carlton will be one of thoseteams that will do the same."