Alex Rance will play no further part in the 2019 AFL season, after it was confirmed the star defender tore his anterior cruciate ligament in Richmond’s season-opening win over Carlton last night.
Richmond coach Damien Hardwick has told his Collingwood counterpart Nathan Buckley to worry about his own players.
The controversy over the defensive tactics of tagger Brent Macaffer on Richmond’s midfield star Trent Cotchin in last week’s AFL round-four clash continues to dog the Tigers.
Cotchin was held to 13 disposals, his lowest tally since 2010, in last week’s loss to Collingwood.
Buckley has suggested if Collingwood’s Scott Pendlebury had only 13 touches, the midfield gun would be told he wasn’t working hard enough to break the tag.
“That’s up for Nathan Buckley to decide,” Hardwick told reporters on Wednesday as the Tigers prepared to board a plane to Brisbane for Thursday’s game against the Lions.
“He can speak about his own players. I’ll speak about mine.”
Hardwick agrees with commentators who have demanded the Tigers’ onballers show a greater team ethic.
“The reality is we just had to help out Trent more,” Hardwick said.
“We felt we could have helped him out a little bit more around the scrimmages and off the ball.
“That’s something we’ve addressed during the week with our players and we expect a better result from that this week.”
Hardwick’s Tigers, finalists in 2013, have made a 1-3 start to the season. Richmond face unbeaten premiers Hawthorn in round six.
That makes Thursday’s Gabba clash even more important, against a Brisbane side coming off a 113-point thrashing at the hands of Port Adelaide at Adelaide Oval.
The last-placed Lions are also without their 203cm ruckman Matthew Leuenberger, who suffered a knee injury last week which could rule him out for three months.
“He’s a towering presence at stoppages,” Hardwick said.
Hardwick says Brisbane’s ex-Cat Trent West is also a capable ruckman.
Brisbane’s Gabba form this season includes a brave effort against unbeaten Geelong in round two.
And the Lions are coached by rookie Justin Leppitsch, who was an assistant to Hardwick in 2013.
“They’re at the Gabba. They took Geelong to 25 points there,” Hardwick said.
“They’ll come out firing and we expect nothing less of a Justin Leppitsch-coached side.”
Hardwick said Leppitsch would have some advantage against his old club.
“It’s important. He has an idea of the strengths and weaknesses of our players,” Leppitsch said.
“From a game plan point of view has a lot changed? A little bit.”
Hardwick’s main concern is disposal efficiency.
“There’s a couple of things we need to get right and get it moving in the right direction and then we think we’ll get our season back up and going,” he said.
“Our contested-ball game is okay. We’ve got to use the ball a lot better.
“They’re all must-wins. It’s going to be a very even season.”
Hardwick said Tom Rockliff, Brent Moloney and Jack Redden could pose problems for the Tigers in the middle of the ground.
“Their midfield strength is fantastic,” Hardwick said.