MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 23: Tigers head coach Damien Hardwick speaks to his players during the round one AFL match between the Carlton Blues and the Richmond Tigers at Melbourne Cricket Ground on March 23, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

Richmond draftee Shai Bolton will be unavailable for selection until round five as he needs to serve his suspension in the opening round of the VFL season – which doesn’t start for another three weeks.

The small forward accepted a one-match ban for striking Northern Blues midfielder Tom Williamson in a VFL practice match last weekend.

Richmond decided against submitting a special request to AFL Victoria for Bolton to serve the ban immediately, which would have required the Tigers to plead their case that Bolton was in contention for AFL selection this weekend.

The 19-year-old was selected by Richmond’s first pick in the 2016 AFL National Draft (pick 29), and will be available to play in the remaining VFL practice matches leading up to round one, but not the season opener itself.