Could Sam Lloyd be the key to Richmond’s premiership defence?

Patrick Moran Roar Rookie

By Patrick Moran, Patrick Moran is a Roar Rookie

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    As the JLT Community Series approaches, speculation continues to mount about how Richmond will look to defend its premiership crown.

    After three consecutive Hawthorn premierships built on precision kicking, the last two seasons have seen the premiers deploy starkly different game plans to the one mastered by the Hawks.

    In 2016, the Western Bulldogs surprised the competition by winning the flag through a running handball game, after finishing seventh at the end of the home-and-away season.

    Last year, the Tigers focused on pressure, and achieved the remarkable feat of winning the premiership following a 13th place finish the year prior.

    In short, these achievements highlight the effectiveness of finding a point of difference, providing an edge over the rest of the competition.

    So, now that Richmond’s tackling game has likely been analysed, picked apart, and mimicked by the other 17 clubs across the off-season, they must have a new card to play.

    While applying forward pressure will ultimately be sustainable in finals football, it is no longer going to be unique to the Tigers. They, like all clubs, must constantly evolve.

    So could Sam Lloyd provide the key to defending the premiership title?

    Despite playing just eight senior games in 2017, Lloyd averaged 26 disposals in his 12 VFL matches last season, kicking 28 goals. He was also awarded the Norm Goss Medal for best afield in a losing VFL grand final.

    Typically considered a useful small forward, and known by many for his after the siren heroics against Sydney, Lloyd developed into a ball winner last season.

    Looking to build on this ability, he recently confirmed that he is looking to play a midfield role this season.

    “I’ve moved into the midfield this pre-season and although it’s a long list of blokes to get in front of, I’m certainly trying to put my (best) foot forward”

    The inclusion of Lloyd into Richmond’s midfield would provide the perfect foil for the hard-bodied Dion Prestia and Jack Graham, with his attacking flair providing x-factor in the middle of the park.

    This ability to break away from the contest can allow Dustin Martin and Trent Cotchin to spend more time inside forward-50.

    While Martin already spends time forward of the ball, kicking 37 goals in 2017, coach Damian Hardwick has also considered using Cotchin inside forward-50.

    “Trent, like Dustin, is an incredible talent one-on-one and he can win those contests he shouldn’t win”.

    “We haven’t been able to push him deep enough at various stages, but we’ve toyed this year with whether we can have Martin and Cotchin both deep at stages”.

    Cotchin plays his best footy when he threatens in attack. In fact, his Brownlow Medal winning year (2012), also happens to be his most prolific in goal kicking (22 goals).

    While the likes of Patrick Dangerfield still manage to hit the scoreboard (45 goals in 2017), coaches still mostly deploy these players on the football.

    Dangerfield was used as a forward in two finals last year, with varying success. In the victory over the Swans, he kicked 4.3. However, against his former side the next week, he was missed in the middle despite scoring 2.3.

    This is where Lloyd is pivotal. Without Dangerfield, Geelong’s midfield looked one-dimensional, without the bursting speed away from the contest that the star midfielder brings. Lloyd can bring this to Richmond when Cotchin or Martin is resting forward.

    With Lloyd, Cotchin, and Martin all dangerous inside the forward-50, the Tigers could utilise midfield goals significantly more than the competition status quo, and this can be their point of difference.

    Breaking into a premiership side will be tough, but if he gets the chance, Lloyd could be instrumental in Richmond’s premiership defence.

    For the Tigers, midfield goal kicking and forward pressure add up to a potentially unique and forward thinking premiership formula.

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    The Crowd Says (1)

    • February 19th 2018 @ 7:40am
      Milo said | February 19th 2018 @ 7:40am | ! Report

      Richmond’s chance of a premiership defence rests with more than Sam Lloyd. There are others who must stand up and be available such as Menadue, Ellis, Bolton, Markov, and rookie Stengle while someone needs to become a clear second option to Nanks.

      If fanatical defensive pressure both forward and back was the linchpin of 2017 Richmond, then given the look of the player list perhaps our strategy is to mix that blend with speed. The aforementioned all have that, and the recruitment of Higgins, Naish and Miller and the almost brand new Drummond have that in spades.

      Of the followers, Hampson looks doubtful again (if he was ever really a viable option) and Soldo and (rookie) Chol will need to take a giant leap upward if they hope to make their mark as a Nankervis alternative. The Tigers will be hoping for big things from Coleman-Jones in this department but he may be a few years off just yet. If Nankervis goes down it will be tough.

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