Richmond closing in on unprecedented AFL first

Jed Lanyon Roar Rookie

By Jed Lanyon, Jed Lanyon is a Roar Rookie

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    Damien Hardwick and his club have almost become accustomed to breaking records and making history.

    Of course, in 2017, Richmond became the first club to win a premiership after finishing 13th the year prior.

    Superstar Dustin Martin became the first player to win a Brownlow Medal and Norm Smith Medal, while playing in a premiership team.

    Peggy O’Neal became the first female AFL President to lead a club to a premiership.

    And the coach joined elite company when by winning a premiership at his third club as a player or coach, accompanying greats Ron Barassi, Leigh Matthews and Mick Malthouse.

    However, once again the Tigers are in a position to re-write the history books for an entirely different reason.

    The AFL dates all the way back to 1897 and throughout this time, the 22 players who have taken the field to win a flag for their club have never all played together again after the grand final.

    It seems difficult to believe at first, but a combination of trades, injuries, retirements, suspensions and form have prevented a coach from selecting their identical premiership side in any of the following seasons.

    However, Richmond could very well be the first club to break this odd trend.

    The 22 Tigers who ran onto the MCG on September 30 2017 to claim Richmond’s 11th premiership all remain on the club’s list. And, for the most part, the club have only been one or two players short of achieving the remarkable feat.

    Richmond have had a clean bill of health, allowing the club to be at near full-strength during the 2017 finals tilt, continuing into this season.

    After playing three games in 13 days through Rounds 5-7, Trent Cotchin, Dion Prestia and Shaun Grigg have sustained minor injuries leading to a cautious approach in selection.

    Daniel Rioli is the only premiership Tiger to miss a significant chunk of the season, due to a broken foot sustained in the dying moments of the 2017 grand final.

    But his return is nearing and he aims to play in the Dreamtime at the ‘G match against Essendon in Round 11.

    Daniel Rioli Richmond Tigers AFL 2017 tall

    Daniel Rioli (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

    Form has largely been a non-issue, with Brandon Ellis and Jacob Townsend the only premiership players to have been omitted – both prior to the Round 6 victory over Collingwood.

    Nathan Broad has returned in solid form after serving a three-match suspension earlier in the year. But it will be hard to drop young gun Jack Higgins after kicking seven goals in his first three career games.

    Perhaps the biggest dilemma in achieving this historic feat will be the unlucky Tigers who just missed the opportunity to play on the last day in September.

    Sam Lloyd, Anthony Miles, Corey Ellis, Jayden Short, Reece Conca and Shai Bolton all played in Richmond’s VFL grand final loss, but have featured in Richmond’s 2018 AFL side.

    They are hungry for success and eager to break into a team that looks to be a contender once again.

    It’s optimistic, as the slightest injury could crush this idea. And even more so, to have the same group of players be at their best form at any given time considering the selection headaches the coach must face every week.

    But to see a premiership side play together again for the first time ever would be unique and simply special.

    Perhaps it would be fitting to see the 2017 premiership team play in Round 12 against Port Adelaide, or Round 18 against St Kilda. Richmond, as the away side, will be forced to wear their inverted clash guernsey, much like they did to win the premiership.

    Dustin Martin Richmond Tigers AFL Grand Final 2017 tall

    AAP Image/Julian Smith

    Or maybe against the very team they beat in the grand final, in Round 16 against Adelaide, at the MCG. A game that would shape to be a fiery clash, regardless of who takes the field.

    If the stars align, ‘Dimma’ must pick those players who are now life members of the Richmond Football Club, just for a single game, to create a historic moment that has never happened before and may never happen again.

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    The Crowd Says (17)

    • Roar Guru

      May 9th 2018 @ 8:47am
      Peter the Scribe said | May 9th 2018 @ 8:47am | ! Report

      They sure are having a dream run with injuries. You’d think Dimma sold his soul to the devil. Ironically, he is the most likeable coach in the competition.

    • May 9th 2018 @ 9:24am
      Roger of Sydney said | May 9th 2018 @ 9:24am | ! Report

      You must struggling for topics

      • May 9th 2018 @ 11:51am
        Birdman said | May 9th 2018 @ 11:51am | ! Report

        I agree it’s a bit of a poindexter article but it does make you think ‘what if’?

        Looks a very long shot that the same 22 will be available or in their best form even if the Tiges make it back to the big dance.

    • May 9th 2018 @ 10:12am
      Slane said | May 9th 2018 @ 10:12am | ! Report

      When I read the statistic before the start of the season I couldn’t believe my eyes. How can it be possible that no premiership team has ever managed to put the same team on the park? It just boggles the mind.

      • May 10th 2018 @ 2:47pm
        AD said | May 10th 2018 @ 2:47pm | ! Report

        I don’t think it’s that surprising. Given that the Grand Final is always the last game of the year, there’s always going to be some list turnover after that game. Somebody might retire – there goes any chance of those 22 running out again. Same if a player leaves through a trade or free agency. On top of that, there are going to be other players coming in through trades, FA and the draft, so you’d think at least one of those is likely to grab a spot in the best 22 from the word go, or a young player already on the list will develop over the off-season to the point where he grabs a spot.

        If there was a game the week after the grand final then this stat would be a lot more interesting. But with the next game being 6 months later, it’s an interesting bit of statistical trivia, but not an especially surprising one.

    • May 9th 2018 @ 10:36am
      jack said | May 9th 2018 @ 10:36am | ! Report

      This is a poor article. With the way the team is playing at the moment it is highly unlikely that jayden short or reece conca are going to be dropped soon on form. Brandon Ellis is struggling for form and played poorly in the VFL on the weekend. I would have it at longer than 100/1 that the premiership 22 is going to play together again.

    • May 9th 2018 @ 10:45am
      Harsh Truth Harry said | May 9th 2018 @ 10:45am | ! Report

      The cracks are appearing already at Richmond! Arrogant Rance claims “We don’t want Lynch!!!!” Oh boy, this will be fun watching the wheels come off the Tiger train. 37 years to do anything is a national disgrace. Should have been booted out of the comp years ago!

      • May 9th 2018 @ 12:41pm
        Birdman said | May 9th 2018 @ 12:41pm | ! Report

        not before another club that dons a sash……..

      • May 9th 2018 @ 7:29pm
        Philby said | May 9th 2018 @ 7:29pm | ! Report


      • May 9th 2018 @ 9:34pm
        J.T. Delacroix said | May 9th 2018 @ 9:34pm | ! Report

        ‘Harsh Truth Harry’, or whoever it is purporting to be you, or even an Essendon supporter at all; it stopped being remotely funny about six months ago. Obviously a wind-up. Now it’s just wearisome, repetitive, witless rubbish.

    • May 9th 2018 @ 11:53am
      Birdman said | May 9th 2018 @ 11:53am | ! Report

      Bad news for Jack Higgins but I doubt he can read, yeah? 🙂

      • May 9th 2018 @ 6:41pm
        truetigerfan said | May 9th 2018 @ 6:41pm | ! Report

        Yeah. Not the sharpest young Jack! Good thing he can play footy!

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