Fremantle ruck recruit Jonathon Griffin is expected to start the season under duress after the 24-year-old was diagnosed with tendonitis in his adductor muscles.

The former Adelaide ruckman, who joined Fremantle during last year’s trade period in October, was rested with fellow big man Zac Clarke from the club’s final practice match last Saturday.

It is understood a medical diagnosis has revealed Griffin is suffering from tendonitis, or inflammation of the tendon, in his upper thighs, with the condition likely to need managing early in the season.

The Dockers declined to comment on his problem.

Griffin is no certainty to make his debut for the Dockers against Brisbane at the Gabba on March 26, with four players in line to back-up ruckman Aaron Sandilands.

Clarke and utility players Michael Johnson and Kepler Bradley all have the capacity to assist with the ruck work and play as tall targets in attack.

Dockers coach Mark Harvey also experimented with defender Alex Silvagni as a ruckman in the pre-season.

Griffin, who played 41 games in five seasons at Adelaide, has already been targeted in the countdown to the premiership season despite not yet having played a senior game at Fremantle.

Adelaide’s inaugural captain Chris McDermott last month questioned how much value the Dockers would get out of him after watching the Crows dish out a 74-point pre-season belting at Thebarton Oval.

McDermott labelled Fremantle’s ruck options as suspect if Sandilands was injured at any point during the year.

The Dockers will have the option of promoting another rookie to face the Lions after placing veteran defender Roger Hayden on the long-term injury list.

Hayden, 30, is recovering from a foot fracture and is expected to miss at least the first half of the year.

The decision could benefit defender Clancee Pearce, who was overlooked for senior elevation as the club’s nominated rookie in favour of midfielder Nick Lower.

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