The AFL has been forced to modify Round 5’s fixture after the Victorian outbreak of COVID-19 saw Richmond denied entry to Queensland.
Shane Edwards is relishing his new role across half-back and was best afield in Richmond’s win over Sydney.
Acting captain Shane Edwards keeps providing evidence that Richmond’s Big Four in the AFL might now be their Big Five.
Relishing his new role across half-back, Edwards was outstanding again on Saturday night as the Tigers beat Sydney by 22 points at Marvel Stadium.
Dustin Martin made a successful return from suspension with three goals, the only one of the top four Tigers who played against the Swans.
Jack Riewoldt (wrist) is set to return for the Anzac Eve match against Melbourne, while captain Trent Cotchin (hamstring) is another week away and Alex Rance (knee) probably will not play again this season.
Coach Damien Hardwick was asked where Edwards deserved to be ranked alongside his higher-profile teammates.
“Top one at the minute, he’s been incredible,” Hardwick said.
“He’s been outstanding since he’s been back there (in defence).”
Hardwick says assistant coach Justin Leppitsch deserves the credit for suggesting that Edwards should go out of the midfield and into defence.
Richmond’s depth is so strong that Edwards can go back and Martin can play much of the game as a leading forward, but the Tigers still looked solid in the midfield.
“It’s probably previously been more reactive – this year it’s been more proactive,” Hardwick said.
Players such as newcomer Jack Ross and Jack Higgins are stepping up as midfielders, a sign of Richmond’s impressive depth, while Dion Prestia also starred against Sydney.
Ross and fellow first-year player Sydney Stack led the way as the Tigers out-pressured the Swans, with Richmond scoring 12 of their 13 goals from turnovers.
“The pleasing thing … was the way we played – it looked real Richmond-like, it was incredible,” Hardwick said.
“It’s inspirational (from Ross and Stack), all of a sudden everyone starts to go ‘well if they’re doing it, we’re doing it’.”
Hardwick is confident the short break will not be a problem for his team.
“We’ve dealt with shorter breaks before and always played really well,” he said.
“It’s a positive mindset from us.”