AFL 2021 Season Preview: Richmond

Nathan Broad. Photo: @Richmond_FC Twitter.

Richmond cemented its legacy as one of the greatest team of the modern era in 2020, securing the club’s third premiership in four years. 

Last Year

Premiers – 12 wins, 4 losses, 1 draw 129.9%

Although Richmond proved just how mighty it is, season 2020 wasn’t all smooth sailing for the Tigers.

Richmond is a club which prides itself on connection, with the limited number of players that could train together at the one-time due to COVID-19, it was evident that the lack of connection with the entire playing group was a leading factor in Richmond having a slow start after the hiatus. 

Post the move to Queensland, Richmond was slowly able to evolve into the team that they were known for in seasons past, that exciting and relentless brand of football that has been so successful in the past. 

2020 did come with its challenges. COVID breaches and dealing with key personnel out for large chunks of the season including 2019 Best and Fairest winner Dion Prestia out due to injury, while Shane Edwards and Bachar Houli missed parts of the season due to family reasons. 

Track Watch 

Riley Collier-Dawkins has impressed on the track over the offseason. Collier-Dawkins is yet to debut for the tigers but has shown promising signs across the pre-season. 

Bachar Houli has had an interrupted pre-season due to a calf strain that was sustained in Richmond’s Grand Final win against Geelong and is highly unlikely to be fit in time for round one. 

Dion Prestia is in the race against the clock to be fit and ready for round one after suffering an injury in the back half of preseason. Although the Tigers have shown that they have no concern taking a conservative approach. 

What to look forward to 

Emergence of young cubs

With an era of success comes stability and strength.

While it is impossible to be winning premierships and rebuilding at the same time, the Tigers have been hoarding a stack of young cubs who are poised to break into this Richmond team and become their next wave of stars.

Is this the year Riley Collier-Dawkins finally earns a senior game and cements his spot in the team? does Jack Ross become a regular in the best 22?

What about Patrick Naish, Thomson Dow, Callum Coleman-Jones and Ryan Garthwaite? These are just a number of many young Tigers waiting for their opportunities.

It’s a big year for 

While he is still serving the final weeks of his suspension from last year’s COVID breach, 2021 is a big year for young ruckman Callum Coleman-Jones. with Ivan Soldo set to miss most of 2021 with an ACL injury, sustained late last year, 2021 is the year for Coleman-Jones to prove himself.

Richmond is already covered when it comes to ruckmen, with three-time premiership player Toby Nankervis and Mabior Chol both playing significant roles in the 2020 campaign.

With young untried ruckman Mate Colina and Samson Ryan also on the list, 2021 looms as a make or break year for Coleman-Jones as he looks to nail down a spot in this strong Richmond side.

Big unanswered question 

Can they stay at the top? 

It’s hard getting to the top but it’s even harder staying there. 2020 proved that Richmond is indeed beatable. Beaten in the Qualifying final against Brisbane and Port Adelaide came within six points during the Preliminary Final. 

In 2021, Richmond will be out to achieve something that the other dynasty sides of the era (Brisbane 2001-2003, Geelong 2007, 2009, 2011 and Hawthorn 2013-15) could never do and get that fourth premiership. 

They have the system and the players. do they have the hunger?

Coach pressure index 

Very low

In terms of job security, Damien Hardwick is reasonably safe. Proving that he and the team around him are the best fit to lead this Richmond outfit with recent success.

There is pressure for him to maintain the position in the top quarter of the ladder, although the Tigers don’t seem like dropping their standards any time soon. 

Ins: Mate Collier (Category B Rookie), Rhyan Mansell (SSP/North Launceston), Samson Ryan (Draft/Sherwood/Lions Academy), Maurice Rioli Jr (Draft/St Marys, Northern Territory/Scotch College)  

Outs: Luke English (delisted), Jack Higgins (Traded – St Kilda), Oleg Markov (Traded – Gold Coast), Fraser Turner (delisted).

Predicted Round 1 team

B: David Astbury – Dylan Grimes – Noah Balta

HB: Liam Baker – Nick Vlastuin – Nathan Broad 

C: Kamdyn McIntosh – Shane Edwards – Shai Bolton

HF Kane Lambert – Jack Riewoldt – Josh Caddy

F Jake Aarts – Tom Lynch – Jason Castagna

R: Toby Nankervis, Trent Cotchin, Dustin Martin

I/C: Riley Collier-Dawkins, Jack Graham, Daniel Rioli, Jayden Short 

Ladder range 

1st- 4th 

All signs point to Richmond having another dominating season. With the depth that they have across all parts of the ground as proven over the past few years. 

They don’t show any signs of slowing down add in the extra benefit of being able to play at the MCG for 14 games this season, it’s going to be another fantastic year for the yellow and black.

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