Richmond will head down the highway with a debutant this Saturday night, with Kaleb Smith set to play his first AFL game against Geelong at GMHBA Stadium.

The 19-year-old defender will be Richmond's fifth debutant of the season, earning his opening appearance after showcasing fine form at VFL level.

After being selected by the Tiger with pick No. 49 in the 2022 NAB AFL Draft from East Fremantle, patience has been paramount for Smith, who endured a frustrating inaugural year in the system.


The West Australian was placed on the inactive list this time last year due to a stress fracture in the navicular bone in his right foot.

One year on, and he's been named to play in his first game on the big stage.

The explosive Tiger, who offers versatility but regularly plays off half-back, has been improving by the week in 2024.

Averaging 19 disposals, six rebound-50s and five marks per game in the VFL, Smith has been knocking down the door for his opportunity, drawing recent praise from VFL coach Steve Morris.


"He continues to get better," Morris said of the much-loved Tiger.

"This is a player that is really only in his first season of footy, and he's showing some fantastic signs.

"He’s had a great six-to-eight weeks of footy... I’m really looking forward to seeing his continued progression."

Smith was a standout performer in last Saturday’s VFL Dreamtime win over Essendon at the MCG, finishing with 23 disposals, six marks, five rebound-50s and his first goal in the Yellow and Black.