Tigers to tackle Lions star Neale head-on

Richmond won't be changing their style of play to try and contain Brisbane AFL star Lachie Neale.
Richmond won't be changing their style of play to try and contain Brisbane AFL star Lachie Neale.

Richmond are adamant they won't try to tag Brownlow Medal favourite Lachie Neale out of their AFL qualifying final against Brisbane.

Neale, this year's most prolific ball-winner, has averaged 38 disposals in his past three meetings with the Tigers.

He was kept quiet by Sydney's Ryan Clarke in round 17 and Carlton's Ed Curnow paid close attention to the former Fremantle star at stoppages in round 18.

But Richmond coach Damien Hardwick will stick to his guns at the Gabba on Friday night.

"He's had some very good games against us but you guys know how we play, we don't tag," Hardwick said.

"We'll monitor and come up with a contingency if he does get out of hand.

"The scoreboard will dictate that in a way and he's a really important player to how they play.

"He probably has 45 (disposals) if we don't tag him and he probably still has 30 if we do tag him.

"So we'll just back our players in and allow them to play to their strengths."

Richmond's midfield will get a boost for the battle with Neale when Dion Prestia (ankle) and Shai Bolton (calf) return from injury.

It presents a selection headache for Hardwick and Marlion Pickett could have made way after a quiet few weeks.

But the coach guaranteed last year's fairytale story, who made his AFL debut in the Tigers' grand final win, will retain his spot for a second finals appearance.

"I know everyone looks at kicks, marks and handballs but we're not really based on that," Hardwick said.

"We're a low-possession side but we're a high-structure side.

"The things that we measure and value are not so much on the stats sheet."

Richmond suffered a blow on Monday when leading goalkicker Tom Lynch was ruled out of the qualifying final with a hamstring injury.

Australian Associated Press