Both sides will enter Round 1 with plenty to prove in the hope of beginning 1-0, with the Bulldogs seeking revenge following the 74-point loss in last year’s season decider.
The Demons will unfurl their first premiership flag in 57-years, and will look to pounce on the Bulldogs early to start off their premiership defence in style.
Hibberd will join his fellow backmen on the sidelines, with 7 News’ Mitch Cleary revealing the 32-year-old has sustained a calf complaint.
Michael Hibberd ruled out of Melbourne’s side tomorrow night with a calf complaint. Joins Trent Rivers (knee) and Harrison Petty (calf) missing from the flag side
— Mitch Cleary (@cleary_mitch) March 14, 2022
Aside from the aforementioned trio’s absence, Goodwin’s Round 1 planning is set to be buoyed by a predominately healthy list, with key defender Adam Tomlinson potentially making his return from a season-ending ACL injury.
All-Australian duo Jake Lever and Steven May will lead from the back, while formidable smalls Christian Salem and Jake Bowey will be hoping to start their new season in the same style they ended 2021.
In the Dogs’ camp, Hunter is reportedly set to be “dropped” for the clash at the MCG, according to Fox Sports’ Tom Morris.
Lachie Hunter won’t play against Melbourne on Wednesday night. Dropped on form. Details coming up shortly On The Couch. @FOXFOOTY
— Tom Morris (@tommorris32) March 14, 2022
Hunter, who is seen as a first-team midfielder for Luke Beveridge, is set to miss the cut for Wednesday’s opener despite being available for selection.
The 27-year-old played 25 of a possible 26 matches in 2021, missing just one game due to a broken hand.
Still, when quizzed on the validity of Morris' reports, Beveridge bristled on Tuesday morning.
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"I'm aware of the reports but the team will come out later," Beveridge said at the club's Whitten Oval base.
"It's speculation from a journalist so you can't expect me to bite before the teams come out.
"I'm not going to talk about Lachie Hunter if this is some kind of interrogation or investigation into how he's been going.
"It will all be unnecessary at the end of the day, anyway."
Like the Demons, the Bulldogs will enter the beginning of the home and away season with a near full-fit list, with top draftee Sam Darcy the only notable player currently in the club’s casualty ward.
Darcy is set to miss the first half of the season due to a stress fracture in his foot, a setback sustained prior to last November’s National Draft.