Author: Alex Christodoulou
Mar 14, 2018 04:12 AM
Tigers to be tamed in 2018
Key Ins: None
Key Outs: None
In 2017, the Tigers broke a 37-year premiership drought and became the latest club to add a chapter into the thick book of football fairytale stories. However, if we recall similar football fairytales in recent years, most notably the Western Bulldogs in the 2016 AFL season and crossing codes, Leicester in the 2015-6 English Premier League football season, we would observe that their respective title defences turned out to amount to nothing more than a group of limp performances with one eye looking back at the fairytale that was.
What made last year's triumph even more remarkable was the fact that it came completely out of the blue. The Tigers' average ladder finishing position in the five seasons from 2012-2016 was 8.6 and includes a 13th placed finish in 2016.
A positive for the Tigers heading into the new season is that they have managed to keep hold of all of their young talent. With premiership experience and a leadership group that contains the reigning Brownlow medallist as well as ever-reliable captain Trent Cotchin, the Tigers have the potential to go back-to-back.
Although he managed to keep the group together, Hardwick will face a tough challenge in re-motivating and re-energizing his young players to ensure that Richmond don't succumb to the recent pattern of mediocracy after a shock premiership win. Furthermore, the Tigers' style of play, characterized by a frantic and frenzied high-press, converging on opposition players like bees to a honey-pot, is a style that requires unwavering mental and physical concentration - which is difficult to sustain.
Player to watch: In his fifth game of AFL footy, Jack Graham booted 3 goals in a superb performance. This game just happened to be last year's Grand Final, suggesting that if a five-game rookie can produce that performance on AFL's biggest stage, he will be the brightest of prospects for years to come.
Key Player: Dustin Martin did it all in 2017. Winning the Brownlow and Norm Smith medals, triumphing in the grand final, and signing a new 7-year multi-million dollar contract to boot, 'Dusty' established himself as a club legend down at Punt Road. Needless to say, if he can reproduce his form, the Tigers will be roaring again.
Defensive rating 7/10
Alex Rance has been Richmond's best player and arguably the league's best defender over the past 5 years. With the sweet left boot of Bachar Houli, and the marking prowess of David Astbury, the Tigers' defence is shaping up well again.
Attacking threat 5/10
Despite their success last year, Richmond only ranked 8th in goals scored per game (13.2). With Jack Reiwoldt not quite the force he was five years ago, a very young forward line will be left to pick up the slack. With all the talent in the world, Daniel Rioli and Dan Butler won't perform every week, leaving the door open for opposition teams.
Midfield strength 7/10
Apart from the all-conquering Martin, who led the league in both kicks (479) and score involvements (225) last year, captain Trent Cotchin and pocket rocket Dion Prestia also had superb seasons. Cotchin will be crucial as he will be looking to set the tone for his whole team in their quest to go back-to-back.
||Way too short. Beware the fairytale hangover