Fremantle coach Ross Lyon is adamant star ruckman Aaron Sandilands will be fit to face Geelong in round one after he was forced to sit out Sunday night’s NAB Cup win over Richmond with a tight calf.

Sandilands, who was named to face the Tigers at Patersons Stadium, was a late withdrawal after complaining of calf tightness early in the warm-up.

Lyon said it was a precautionary move to rest Sandilands, who has enjoyed a near flawless pre-season, and he was pleased to see how the team functioned with Jon Griffin and Zac Clarke sharing ruck duties in the 38-point win.

“Aaron we planned to play, he just tightened up in his calf,” the coach said. “We just tapped him out [so] there was no risk.

“I don’t think he got through his warm-up. He got out, trotted around and we’re certainly at them to communicate if anything changes.

“It’s really a high priority to get through unscathed and he’s really important to us.

“It was good for me to see how we went [without Sandilands].

“We’re really confident that there’s nothing wrong with Aaron and he’ll play round one.”

Fremantle also chose to rest captain Matthew Pavlich on Sunday night, but found goals through Kepler Bradley (three) and impressive youngsters Jayden Pitt (three) and Josh Mellington (two).

“There was some reasonable signs and competition for spots, which is good,” Lyon said.

“From our end I was disappointed with the first half of the first quarter and the first half of the last quarter, where we were just a bit flippant with the ball and turned it over.

“It was trying conditions, we’re all still building and I thought Richmond put up a really good effort.”

Richmond entered the match without key players Trent Cotchin, Brett Deledio, Nathan Foley, Shaun Grigg, Daniel Jackson and the suspended Reece Conca and removed stars Dustin Martin and Jack Riewoldt at half-time after bright starts.

Coach Damien Hardwick, who had planned to lighten the load on his key players for Sunday night’s match, said he could introduce up to seven players for next Saturday’s clash with Geelong.

Hardwick said he was pleased with the performances of Melbourne recruit Addam Maric, who entered the match after half-time and had 10 possessions and kicked a goal to help the Tigers rally.

“He’s certainly put himself well in the mix for that rookie upgrade spot,” Hardwick said.

“He uses the ball very, very well and the one area he knows he has to work on is his defensive area. He worked on that again today and had some positive results.”

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