Tigers hopeful on AFL flag stars' return

Richmond have not ruled out Shane Edwards and Bachar Houli from joining the team in their AFL hub.
Richmond have not ruled out Shane Edwards and Bachar Houli from joining the team in their AFL hub.

Richmond are still hopeful star duo Shane Edwards and Bachar Houli will return to action at some point in 2020, despite the team being unlikely to play in Melbourne again this AFL season.

The two-time premiership pair opted to stay at home in Victoria for family reasons when the Tigers entered their Queensland hub this month.

Victorian clubs have been told they could spend up to 10 weeks based in Queensland and appear likely to have to play out the rest of the season on the road because of their home state's COVID-19 issues.

Coach Damien Hardwick hasn't ruled a line through the possibility of Edwards and Houli joining Richmond's main group in their hub later in the campaign.

"It's too far to project and we've seen how consistently things change day to day," Hardwick told reporters on Thursday.

"With the situation we're in, those guys might be here in six or seven weeks, they might be here in one week.

"We're not too sure.

"We're just going to invest in the strategy we've got at the moment and make daily assessments on how that strategy is going.

"The guys (coaches) back in Melbourne are doing a stellar job putting some development into those guys (players) and they'll be ready to go when the time comes."

Clubs have minimal control in terms of flying players in and out of the hubs, with league officials working with state governments on player movement.

"We're in the AFL's hands with that and there is another confirmed flight at the end of July or early August, and then quite possibly another one after that," Hardwick said.

"That's not for the clubs to dictate, that's an AFL protocol and we'll continue to work with that."

Hardwick confirmed Dion Prestia and Toby Nankervis would join the hub on Friday but both are still rated "medium term" prospects to return from syndesmosis injuries.

Trent Cotchin (hamstring) and David Astbury (knee) will both miss at least one more match, with Richmond to take on North Melbourne at Metricon Stadium on Saturday night.

Houli's wife, Rouba, gave birth to the couple's third child last week and the defender this week revealed his mother, Yamama, is in intensive care battling COVID-19.

"Bachar and his family are incredibly important to us," Hardwick said.

"He's such a prolific member of our club and I think his mum is doing better from the news that we got today, which is incredible.

"We just hope she continues to be on the mend because Bachar and his family are hurting and we're hurting as well."

Australian Associated Press