HOBART, AUSTRALIA - JULY 29: Michael Hibberd of the Demons reacts after missing a shot on goal during the round 19 AFL match between the North Melbourne Kangaroos and the Melbourne Demons at Blundstone Arena on July 29, 2017 in Hobart, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Premiership Demons defender Michael Hibberd is set to miss Wednesday’s grand final rematch against the Bulldogs, who will also be without winger Lachie Hunter for the season opener. 

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.

Simon Goodwin’s side will be without defensive pair Harrison Petty and Trent Rivers for the early rounds of the season, with the duo having suffered calf and knee injuries this pre-season.

Hibberd will join his fellow backmen on the sidelines, with 7 News’ Mitch Cleary revealing the 32-year-old has sustained a calf complaint.

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.

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."

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 04: Lachie Hunter of the Bulldogs celebrates after kicking a goal during the round 20 AFL match between the St Kilda Saints and the Western Bulldogs at Etihad Stadium on August 4, 2018 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)


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.