Higgins pulls out of Cats-Tigers AFL clash

Geelong's Shaun Higgins has withdrawn from the Cats' clash with Richmond.
Geelong's Shaun Higgins has withdrawn from the Cats' clash with Richmond.

Veteran Shaun Higgins' milestone match is on hold, with the Geelong forward withdrawing from Sunday's heavyweight clash with Richmond.

The 33-year-old was on track to notch game number 250 against the Tigers at the MCG but pulled out with knee soreness on the eve of the match.

Brad Close returns to the Cats' side for the grand final rematch after he was originally managed.

The high-flying Cats are in the mix for a top-two spot and are earning increasing accolades having held their opponents to just 44 points on average during a three-match winning run.

Richmond coach Damien Hardwick has claimed underdog status for the ninth-placed Tigers, who must battle the remainder of the year without injured superstar Dustin Martin.

His absence is offset by the return of All-Australian midfielder Shane Edwards from an ankle problem.

"If we're looking for one player to replace Dustin Martin, we're going to be found short," Hardwick said.

Geelong coach Chris Scott said Richmond have a track record of stepping up in the absence of stars.

"They've shown over a long period of time they can replace really, really high level players with guys that can come in and do the job," he said.

"It's not a positive for them that Martin's out, but it makes it more challenging for the opposition because you have to guess a bit as to what they're going to do without him."

Gary Rohan and Lachie Henderson are inclusions in the Cats' squad that beat Fremantle by 69 points in Perth last weekend.

The Cats thrashed Richmond by 63 points in their most recent meeting - at the MCG in round eight - with Rohan slotting five goals.

"They've been in really good form. We know how they play, they just execute it so well," Hardwick said.

Australian Associated Press