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Imagining a 2020 Richmond-Essendon merger

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Roar Guru
10th November, 2019

I’ve selected the players best suited to their given roles if Richmond and Essendon formed a combined team for 2020.

To be eligible for this team a player must have played a minimum of five games in 2019 and be on their team’s list for 2020.

I have chosen to combine Richmond as Essendon with a total of 14 Tigers and eight Bombers. It’s not a surprise that the 2019 premiers have more players in this combined team.

Combined Richmond-Essendon list

Coach: Damien Hardwick (Richmond)
Co-captains: Shane Edwards (Richmond), Zach Merrett (Essendon)
B: Andrew Mcgrath (Essendon), David Astbury (Richmond), Dylan Grimes (Richmond)
HB: Nick Vlastuin (Richmond), Michael Hurley (Essendon), Jayden Short (Richmond)
C: Dyson Heppell (Essendon), Dion Prestia (Richmond), Josh Caddy (Richmond)
HF: Shane Edwards (Richmond), Tom Lynch (Richmond), Kane Lambert (Richmond)
F: Jason Castagna (Richmond), Jack Riewoldt (Richmond, Dustin Martin (Richmond)
Foll: Andrew Phillips (Essendon), Zach Merrett (Essendon), Darcy Parish (Essendon)
Int: Dylan Shiel (Essendon), David Zaharakis (Essendon), Trent Cotchin (Richmond), Bachar Houli (Richmond)

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I chose Damien Hardwick as Coach as he did an outstanding job in 2019 with his team winning the grand final comprehensively.

I chose Shane Edwards as captain as he’s a quality leader and finished second in their best and fairest. Zach Merrett stood out as Essendon’s best player in 2019 and should be captain of Essendon.

Zach Merrett

(Adam Trafford/AFL Media/Getty Images)

Andrew McGrath can play in defence and through the midfield. David Astbury is one of Richmond’s best defenders and is extremely underrated. Dylan Grimes is an automatic selection in the back six. Nick Vlastuin is a key player for this combined team on the half-back flank. Michael Hurley is one of the best centre half-backs in the competition. Jayden Short provides plenty of run out of defence for Richmond.

Dyson Heppell should play on the wing, where his skills would be better utilised. Dion Prestia is a pivotal part of the midfield. Josh Caddy can play on the wing and have an impact on the game, even though he won’t gather 30 possessions.

Shane Edwards would start on the half-forward flank but also get some midfield time. Tom Lynch played every game in his first season, averaging 2.5 goals per game. Kane Lambert is a pivotal part of this combined team. Jason Castagna may have averaged only 1.1 per game, but he finished in the top ten of the Richmond best and fairest in 2019. Jack Riewoldt played well when it mattered in 2019, kicking five goals in the grand final. Dustin Martin kicked 12 goals in three games in the 2019 finals series, which shows why he should start in the forward line.


Andrew Phillips is a ruckman with a lot of ability, having averaged 29.4 hit-outs in five games in 2019 for Carlton. He’s a player with immense potential. Zach Merrett shows great endeavour along with plenty of ability and should start in the centre square. Darcy Parish finished ninth in the Essendon best and fairest in 2019. He would relish the opportunity to start in the middle of the ground.

Dylan Shiel finished second in Essendon’s 2019 Season and would benefit from starting on the interchange bench and playing some time on the half-forward flank and the rest of the time through the midfield. David Zaharakis can also play in the midfield or on a half-forward flank. Trent Cotchin averaged fewer than 20 disposals per game in 2019 and would benefit from less game time as he missed 11 games through injuries and doesn’t need to get a lot of disposals to impact the game. Bachar Houli will play possibly his last season in 2020 and would be suited to playing less game time so that he could play every game.