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Are Richmond truly a champion team?

Alex Rance went from considering retirement to premiership player, all thanks to simplicity and balance in life (Photo by Adam Trafford/AFL Media/Getty Images)
Roar Rookie
4th May, 2018
21

Richmond sit atop the ladder as one of two teams with five wins and one loss, yet the reigning premiers are still a tough side to get a guide on.

Of these five wins, they are yet to beat a side that finished in the top eight last year, with their only loss so far coming against fellow grand finalists Adelaide.

There is little doubt that they play a tough brand of football to break down, and are exceptionally well coached. However, winning a second flag on the trot is one of the hardest tasks in footy.

Do they have the class and enough quality footballers to make it a second premiership in a row?

One comparison would be with the Hawthorn side that won flags in 2013, 2014 and 2015.

The Tigers have champions Dustin Martin and Alex Rance, along with borderline A-graders Trent Cotchin, Kane Lambert and Jack Riewoldt. They have an exceptional defence, combining the ever-reliable David Astbury, Dylan Grimes and Nick Vlastuin, accompanied by the dashing Bachar Houli and Rance.

Perhaps their biggest weapon is the high-pressure-applying mosquito fleet consisting of Shane Edwards, Dan Butler, Jason Castagna, Josh Caddy, Dion Prestia, Kane Lambert, Jack Graham, Daniel Rioli and the freshly acquired Jack Higgins.

This host of small-to-medium size half forwards and pinch-hitting midfielders provide the familiar swarm inside Richmond’s forward 50, which has become their trademark.

Although a fantastic team, they aren’t names that strike fear into their opponents.

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Alex Rance of the Richmond Tigers

Alex Rance, the Tigers’ true superstar. (Photo: Justine Walker/AFL Media)

Hawthorn’s 2015 premiership side, which ran onto the MCG to face West Coast in the grand final, had five out-and-out champions of the game in Luke Hodge, Sam Mitchell, Shaun Burgoyne, Jordan Lewis and Cyril Rioli.

It is the rung down from these elite players that makes the Hawks extraordinary, consisting of amazing players such as Jarryd Roughead, Josh Gibson, Isaac Smith, Grant Birchall, Luke Breust, Jack Gunston, Brian Lake, Liam Shiels, Ben Stratton and Paul Puopolo.

This nucleus was feared for their performance during finals footy – pressure, toughness, skill, and stepping up in big moments was something they became renowned for.

Compared to the Hawthorn side of 2015, Richmond doesn’t stack up. However, what they do bring is a high pressure, finals-like game every week, which sides so far in 2018 and the back end of 2017 found really hard to break down.

They don’t have the class, but they have a premiership, which brings belief and the drive for more.

The Tigers’ performance in 2017 was remarkable and completely unexpected. They were the best team in September and managed to overcome the immense pressure of 80,000 members.

However, to go and do it again in 2018 would be outstanding.

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Denis Cometti, in the final quarter of the 2015 grand final, said that the Hawthorn side was “one of the greatest of all time”. Will we be speaking about this Tigers side in the same way in the not-too-distant future?