2017 record: 15-7 (home and away), premiers
AFL season 2017: what we learned
AFLW is here to stay, new rules don’t ruin the game, attempting to predict the MRP is a folly, AFL equalisation is working well and 2017 was Dustin Martin’s year in a big way.
Season review: Season 2017 will go down as one of the most remarkable in the 133-year history of the Richmond Football Club. Riding a wave of momentum in the second half of the year, the Tigers became an irrepressible force in September, casting aside their previously woeful finals record to emphatically defeat fellow top-four sides Geelong, GWS and Adelaide on the way to their first premiership in 37 years. Richmond were ultimately the most consistent side across the whole season, with their only two blowout losses coming against the Crows (round six) and Saints (round 16). Dustin Martin produced arguably the greatest season by any player in VFL/AFL history. He became the first to win a Brownlow Medal, Norm Smith Medal and premiership in the same year, and also won the AFLPA MVP, All-Australian honours, club best and fairest, AFLCA Champion Player of the Year and Gary Ayers Award. But he certainly had help in the form of Trent Cotchin, Alex Rance and Jack Riewoldt as well as an amazing core of players who came together and realised their full potential to become an unstoppable force. The fact that the oldest player on their list is 29 should fill opposition clubs with fear.
Unsigned free agents: Nil
Retirements/delistings: Ivan Maric (ret), Chris Yarran (ret)
Where they’re at: What a year. What an emphatic finals series. Relentless pressure around the ball with serious excitement factor on the forward line. They have the best defender in the game in Rance, a Brownlow medallist in Martin and now a premiership captain in Cotchin playing with a real ruthless edge. On top of that, in Riewoldt they have a key forward who still managed to kick more than 50 goals this year while doing so much hard work to bring others into the game. The only thing Martin hasn’t won this year is the lottery, and I wouldn’t put that past him at this rate.
What they need: Hard to say you need anything when you win the grand final by eight goals and dominate finals. With depth in their VFL team, which nearly won the premiership as well, there is plenty of healthy competition for spots to keep all motivated to get better. As we saw earlier in the year another tall key forward or a second ruck option if Toby Nankervis and/or Riewoldt were to get injured, or they wanted to try a different look, would be areas on their list they could address with either of their two first-round draft picks.
Who they should target: The Tigers are in a great position where they don’t have to give up too much with their stars still in their prime and a lot of the premiership players young and still emerging. The players who could fill the depth chart of what they need are at different stages of their football journey. Josh Schache was a No.2 draft pick and has some serious potential. One of the high picks and maybe a player from the Tigers’ VFL team who is looking for more opportunities could satisfy the Lions for a player who hasn’t looked settled away from home. Older options would be his Lions teammate Stefan Martin or Port Adelaide big man Matthew Lobbe, who is now on the outer at Alberton.