Far from upsetting the apple cart, Tom Lynch’s Richmond teammates speak glowingly of what he has brought to the AFL club.
Having never played finals in eight seasons at Gold Coast, Lynch – along with partner in crime Jack Riewoldt – looms as a potentially dominant force this September.
The 199cm forward has well and truly hit his straps over the past month, booting 17 goals from his past five games and looking every part the star recruit he was billed as when he arrived at Punt Road on a lucrative deal last off-season.
While commentators have lauded his recent form, club leaders were impressed from the start with the 26-year-old’s workrate, hunger and willingness to adapt to Richmond’s system.
A highly-talented key forward in his prime, Lynch was never going to come cheap, and vice-captain Alex Rance openly questioned as early as last May whether the Tigers ran the risk of “upsetting the apple cart” by splashing out on the free agent.
Veteran utility Shane Edwards says in reality, Lynch fitted in seamlessly and quickly won the respect of his teammates.
“Any time you’ve got a chance to add someone like Tom Lynch to your team, you take it every day of the week,” Edwards told AAP.
“It’s kind of funny, seeing all the external noise from the media saying that he had a slow start. Really, he was just without Jack (Riewoldt), in a new system with no pre-season. And he was providing so many ground-balls for our small forwards.
“We’re constantly reassuring him in meetings and stuff how important and how crucial he’s playing. It’s really good to see him get some reward on the end of it.”
Perhaps the happiest surprise for the Tigers so far has been Lynch’s durability.
Only two Richmond players have not missed a game this season – Dion Prestia is one and Lynch, who had knee surgery during the off-season, is the other.
“I think if you’d said in early-January that he’d be one of (two) players to play every game so far, the medical staff would tell you you’re pretty silly,” Tigers defender Nick Vlastuin said.
“His continuity’s been amazing.
“I didn’t know Lynchy was so good on the ground either until the last couple of weeks. It’s been pretty wet and he’s been super.
“Now with Jack back as well, it kind of throws another dynamic out there.”