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Can Richmond avoid a Western Bulldogs-style premiership hangover in 2018?
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TRENT Cotchin says Richmond’s “unique” brand will help the Tigers avoid a Western Bulldogs-style premiership hangover.

Cotchin and the Tigers’ senior players, including Brownlow Medallist Dustin Martin, started their 2018 campaign with a training session at Punt Rd this morning.

Jack Riewoldt, who is in Tasmania with the club’s new draftees, was the only notable absentee while Daniel Rioli limped around the boundary line after surgery to fix a broken foot.

“If you look at all the outcomes rather than the things you can control obviously there’s pressure and the outside will want us to crumble under that pressure,” Cotchin said.

“Our mentality would be we’re going out there to hunt, as we did throughout 2017.”

Will Richmond suffer the same fate as the Dogs? Here are six reasons Tiger fans can enter 2018 confident they can avoid a premiership hangover, one reason to worry — and one big unknown.

1. COMPLACENCY?

The Dogs are exhibit A if Richmond players think they can just turn up and play off again on the last Saturday in September.

Cotchin said he had already spoken to the team about what they achieved and the group was now ready to tackle a new challenge.

But he said he wasn’t looking too closely at what happened at Whitten Oval.

“Without being inside the four walls you don’t know how they approached it. For us it’s just about controlling what we know works for us, but also where we think the improvement lies. We’ve got a lot of young talent, we brought new talent in and our older guys, while they’re older there is still a lot of youth there as well.

“The reality is everyone is different. Our group is unique and we’ll find out own way forward.”

2. THE LIST

The Bulldogs lost premiership defender Joel Hamling to Fremantle and welcomed Travis Cloke from Collingwood, prompting a forward line reshuffle that never really clicked in 2017.

Even Hawthorn had a regular turnover during its premiership years with the likes of Matt Suckling, Brian Lake and Lance Franklin headlining the club’s list changes (not that it affected the Hawks, further proof of their greatness).

Richmond, in contrast, didn’t lose a player during the 2017 trade period with every premiership hero plus fringe players Sam Lloyd and Anthony Miles re-signing and Ivan Maric — who didn’t play a senior game in 2017 — the only notable retirement.

The Tigers didn’t make any major additions either after bringing in Josh Caddy, Dion Prestia and Toby Nankervis in a busy 2016 off-season.

There will be at least one change from the Grand Final 22 for Round 1 next year with defender Nathan Broad suspended for three matches over the club’s topless photo scandal. He was on the track with the rest of the team today.

3. DEPTH

Cotchin said a sign of the club’s strength was the quality of players pushing hard for senior selection.

Shai Bolton, Connor Menadue, Oleg Markov and Corey Ellis all had a taste last season and would expect more opportunities in 2018, while Miles and Lloyd are waiting in the wings if needed.

“There was probably five, six, seven guys that could have put their hand up and played in the senior team (on Grand Final day) given the success of the VFL team last year,” Cotchin said..

“I think the hunger that our group has shown, whether that be in game of off field in the off-season, speaks for itself.”

4. FORM

The Dogs’ fairytale run to the 2016 flag included a nail-biting six-point win against the Giants in the preliminary final and a 22-point triumph on Grand Final day after leading Sydney by eight points at three-quarter time.

Richmond won its three finals, against the three other top-four teams, by 51, 36 and 48 points.

5. THE GAME PLAN

Richmond won the flag with a unique game style and plans to stay ahead of the pack next season.

“I’ve got no doubt it will change again,” coach Damien Hardwick said yesterday.

“We might start with the small forwards, we might find a key forward that jumps up.

“The game evolves and we’ve got to evolve with it.”

6. DUSTY

The Tigers have the best player in the competition at his prime at age 26.

Cotchin didn’t confirm or deny reports Dustin Martin had phoned his manager from the US to say he had enough partying and wanted to prepare for winning more premierships. But the Norm Smith medallist looked in good shape as he hit the track today.

“I don’t know if Ralph Carr’s phone is tapped,” Cotchin laughed. “There would be some pretty interesting conversations if that was the case.”

ONE REASON TO WORRY?

That depth was a strength for Richmond in 2017 but it wasn’t really tested. The “big four” in particular — Cotchin, Martin, Riewoldt and Alex Rance — missed only two games between them, when Riewoldt copped a poke in the eye at training late in the year.

The Tigers won both of those games, against Gold Coast and Hawthorn, with Toby Nankervis (three goals) and Josh Caddy (four) providing unlikely avenues to goal.

Will the Tigers get away with that kind of improvisation next year?

AND ONE BIG UNKNOWN…

No current Richmond player had appeared in a Grand Final before September 30, let alone won one. They weren’t alive when the Tigers last won a premiership.

So, really, who knows what will happen?

“Typically — well, we’ve never done it before, winning a premiership, but you never really get a chance as a whole group to talk about the win so I think you need to address it in some way and then what is your focus going forward,” Cotchin said.

“We’ve already discussed it in brief terms, it’s hard to address everything in a small team meeting pre-training, but the boys are excited and there’s a bit of anxiety as well given pre-season can be tough at times but the beauty of team sports is we’re all in it together.”

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