Are Richmond truly a champion team?

Angus McKenzie Roar Rookie

By Angus McKenzie, Angus McKenzie is a Roar Rookie

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21 Have your say

    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.

    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.

    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?

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    The Crowd Says (21)

    • May 5th 2018 @ 4:30am
      Kurt said | May 5th 2018 @ 4:30am | ! Report

      I know this is a statement of the ragingly obvious, but the only real answer is that it’s too early to tell. Deserving premiers last year and have played well so far this year, but as Angus says they’re yet to beat a top 8 side from last year. Personally still my tip (and most other people’s I imagine) for the flag, but plenty can happen between now and September.

    • May 5th 2018 @ 8:18am
      Don Freo said | May 5th 2018 @ 8:18am | ! Report

      Interesting grading of players…Trent Cotchin is a ‘borderline A grader’ while Jordan Lewis is an ‘out and out champion’.

      Cotchin IS a champ.
      Lewis is just an AFL footballer.

      • May 6th 2018 @ 4:05pm
        IanG said | May 6th 2018 @ 4:05pm | ! Report

        Spot on Don, was going to say the same thing, plus Reiwoldt is more of a champion than Lewis ever was as well.

      • May 6th 2018 @ 7:47pm
        Peter said | May 6th 2018 @ 7:47pm | ! Report

        Agree. Not too many Brownlow Medallist, three time B&F, premiership captains are not top notch champion footballers. The pill who wrote this article has no idea.

    • May 5th 2018 @ 8:40am
      Sammy said | May 5th 2018 @ 8:40am | ! Report

      They are going to be there deep in september as they don’t lose at the mcg and they will win enough home games to not really have to worry about any tough away ones too much. Yeah they lost to the crows in adelaide..but so what. They don’t have to play them there again this year and as long as they finish above the crows they wont have to play a final there either. They have got a very even team with some genuine superstars in it and their recruitment policy set a few years back of targeting middle distance runners suits their pressure style of game perfectly. The injury curse hitting so many other teams has not come theor way (yet). They are an absolute lock for top 4 and if they finish top 2 then good luck trying to beat them on their home deck in the grand final

      • May 5th 2018 @ 9:03am
        Don Freo said | May 5th 2018 @ 9:03am | ! Report

        Could lose on the MCG this weekend.

    • May 5th 2018 @ 9:12am
      peter chrisp said | May 5th 2018 @ 9:12am | ! Report

      I think you are playing Freeo & MCG you will hammer them

    • Roar Pro

      May 5th 2018 @ 9:47am
      Marty Gleason said | May 5th 2018 @ 9:47am | ! Report

      Hawthorn did win three consecutive premierships after all, who would stack up to them? Unnecessary comparison.

      I think only Burgoyne was ever an out-and-out champion. Hawthorn were more a very even team with the best 15-22 type players, team I guess the key word, who put on the best tackling pressure, were the best coached and by the end made less mistakes.

      Agree with your assessment on Richmond players, Riewoldt and Cochin at the same level as Rance and Martin has always been fanciful.

      Good article.

    • May 5th 2018 @ 10:47am
      Chris said | May 5th 2018 @ 10:47am | ! Report

      Richmond is work in progress. How they shape up depends on their ability to withstand the rigours of this demanding game. It seems rather premature to equate them with the Hawthorn three-peat. The second round is always crucial. Let’s wait for the games that come after the bye. Making wild predictions in May could end up resembling Eating Crow!

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