Midfielder Jacob Hopper is officially a Tiger after making the move to Punt Road on Thursday with Hopper set to boost an already strong Tigers midfield.
The 25-year-old played 114 matches at the Giants after being drafted to the club back in 2015 with pick seven in the draft. Hopper will be a Tiger until at least the end of 2029 after signing a seven-year deal with Richmond.
While only playing seven games this season due to injury, Hopper had a career-best season in 2021 where he was selected in the All-Australian squad of 40 after averaging 26 disposals and 3.8 tackles.
What does Hopper bring to the Tigers?
Hopper brings that element of grunt into the Tigers’ midfield, bringing the tackling pressure to allow for his side to re-claim possession or force the turnover.
As well as his ability to win the ball which was on show in 2021 and from his seven matches in 2022, he averaged 19.3 disposals and 4.7 clearances. He’s also got the ability to hit the scoreboard, kicking 10 goals in 2021.
Hopper will be a mainstay in the Richmond midfield over the next few years and has signed on until the end of 2029. With the likes of Trent Cotchin and Dustin Martin in the twilight stages of their respective careers and spending less time on – ball.
Richmond’s General manager of Football Talent Blair Hartley said the best is yet to come for Jacob Hopper.
“Jacob has a skill set that we know can help us across the coming years, so it is very exciting to secure this trade with the GIANTS,” he added.
“At only 25, we believe Jacob’s best is yet to come, and we look forward to him continuing to build off the outstanding seasons of AFL football he has already put together.
“We thank GWS for their cooperation in facilitating Jacob’s request to return to Victoria, where he completed his studies, and are pleased to have been able to find a suitable trade that benefits both parties.”
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What does the Tigers’ midfield look like with Hopper?
With the likes of Kane Lambert and Shane Edwards retiring over the course of 2022, there are a few gaps to be filled in the Richmond midfield.
Adding in Hopper and Taranto will certainly bolster the midfield and will be working alongside the likes of Shai Bolton, Dion Prestia, Cotchin, and Martin in the middle. Jack Graham is looking for more opportunity in the middle, so the juggling act to find the right balance will be interesting to watch unfold over the pre-season.
Both Bolton and Martin can play up forward if needed, so the flexibility will be something that Richmond coach Damien Hardwick certainly uses throughout 2023, as he has for seasons gone by.
There’s also the chance that Cotchin will be playing a bit of a different role this season, to accommodate for the arrival of both Taranto and Hopper. As we’ve seen with the likes of Scott Pendlebury, who moved to a half-back role in 2022, there’s potential for a similar switch-up with Cotchin.
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