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New Richmond coach Adem Yze says the Tigers have a ‘huge upside’ in the short term, refusing to put a ceiling on what the team can achieve.
The Tigers confirmed Yze, who had previously served as Melbourne’s assistant coach, as their permanent successor for triple premiership coach Damien Hardwick on Thursday evening.
Yze won the Tigers’ job after emerging as the likeliest candidate in a strong field in recent weeks, beating out caretaker coach Andrew McQualter.
In his first media conference as Tigers coach on Friday, Yze, who was involved in the Demons’ 2021 premiership win as well as Hawthorn’s trio of flags from 2013-15, wants his new team to learn from the example of GWS, who surged into the preliminary finals this season after a bottom-four finish in 2022, as proof of how quickly things can turn around for the 13th-placed Tigers.
“We‘re not going to put a ceiling on where we where we can finish,” Yze said.
“It has been three years since we’ve won a final, so there has to be a subtle change, and hopefully I can bring that change… but the foundations of this footy club and the footy team are really strong.
“Hopefully we can bounce back really quickly.
“I get huge upside on what other teams have done. GWS have gone from the bottom half of the ladder to a prelim – that’s what we’re going to strive to do.
“I want the players walking into the footy club thinking they can make the top four next year.”
McQualter, who took the reins after Hardwick sensationally resigned mid-season, is expected to depart the Tigers after missing out on the permanent position, but Yze is hopeful the 37-year old will stick around.
“I‘d love him to stay at the footy club,” Yze said of McQualter.
“He’s created some strong relationships, he understands the place, so I’d have no issue with him staying around and being my right-hand man.
If he does move on – and we’ll find that out in the next few days – he’ll go with our blessing and I’ll try and fill that spot.”
After Hardwick abruptly quit as Richmond coach in May after 13-and-a-half seasons, McQualter led the Tigers to seven wins from his 13 games in charge.
Yze has been an assistant in the AFL system for more than a decade, first working part-time under Alastair Clarkson back at Hawthorn in 2012.
After six full-time seasons with the Hawks, Yze moved to the Demons, the club he played 271 games for, ahead of the 2021 season.
It ends a long wait for the 46-year-old to land a senior job, having previously interviewed at Adelaide, GWS and Essendon.
Making the news all the sweeter was that it was received on his birthday.
“We cracked open a beer last night and had a quiet beer after the meeting,” Yze said of celebrating his appointment.
“It was a surreal feeling. I got home, my wife got to sing to me ‘Happy Birthday’ to me – we didn’t have a cake, but that didn’t matter!
“I had some friends over: we got to share it with family and friends, which is awesome.”
Speaking alongside Yze on Friday, Richmond CEO Brendon Gale said the choice to pick the Demons assistant over McQualter was down to ‘an appetite for some change’ after a disappointing 2023 season, in which the Tigers finished with their equal-lowest ladder position of 13th since finishing 15th in Hardwick’s first season as coach back in 2010.
“We have drifted in some respects in terms of the way we play. We can play a whole lot better,” Gale said.
“Clearly, the senior coach [Yze] personifies that change, and I think he’s identified areas of our game plan where we can evolve and grow.
“We’ve got to continue to evolve. The game is moving ahead at a rate of knots, and I think Adem will take this team and this group forward.
“We can play a whole lot better, and we will play a whole lot better and we won’t put a ceiling on what better looks like.”
Yze is particularly looking forward to working alongside Tigers champion and three-time Norm Smith Medallist Dustin Martin, who after an injury-plagued last few seasons returned to his best in 2023 to be the only Richmond player named in the 44-man All-Australian squad.
“He’s an amazing player, an amazing person, an amazing Richmond man,” Yze said of Martin.
“To be at the footy club when he plays his 300th game is going to be an amazing opportunity for me.
“He had a terrific season last year, and I can see a fair few solid years out of Dusty. I’m hoping I can just help deliver that with a nice, clear role for him, and [let him] have some impact on games like he normally does.”