RICHMOND youngster Jack Graham says the lure of winning back-to-back premierships is driving higher standards at Punt Road.
Graham, 19, who booted three goals in the Grand Final win over Adelaide, recorded a new personal best in Richmond’s 3km time trial, while Tigers’ draftee Jack Higgins boosted his credentials, finishing third overall behind Brandon Ellis and Kane Lambert.
Higgins could earn a Round 1 debut with livewire Daniel Rioli (foot) in doubt.
“I won’t be giving my spot up, that’s for sure,” Graham told the Herald Sun when quizzed about Higgins’ eye-catching effort.
“It’s great for him to run that in his first year so hopefully he brings that as part of his strengths of the game.”
Graham said Higgins’ performance highlighted a hunger at Punt Road.
“We’re really excited, our young talent are the ones pushing the older boys to get better and better,” Graham said.
“We’re all making each other better, and obviously we’re hungry to do what we did last year and that’s hopefully to go back-to-back, that’s pretty early call.”
Despite playing in the premiership – in just his fifth AFL game – Graham has worked hard over summer to shore up the respect of his teammates.
He followed a tailored fitness program to a ‘T’, then enlisted teammate Jayden Short to help with running.
“I wanted to push myself and run with him, so credit to him, he helped me through the break,” Graham said.
“I wanted to come back in good nick … so the boys can notice that I put in the hard work.”
The Tigers returned to training this week to ramp up preparations for the JLT Series, AFLX, and premiership defence.
Brownlow Medallist Dustin Martin, Toby Nankervis, Nick Vlastuin, Jason Castagna and Ellis are among a host of Tigers back in work.
The Tigers will play JLT games against Essendon, in Wangaratta on February 24, and North Melbourne at Princes Park on March 7.