Richmond’s successful off-season is driving its on-field success and premiership hopes

RICHMOND is the club that told its head recruiter it was firing him before he was about to use the five top-18 selections that would define its future.

The Tigers are the club that selected Aaron Fiora over Matthew Pavlich and Richard Tambling over Lance Franklin.

And yet if it has taken many painful years for those memories to fade, they might just be having the last laugh.

Last Friday night Dion Prestia, Josh Caddy, Toby Nankervis and Jack Graham played critical roles in a preliminary final win.

And electric forward Shai Bolton is nipping at Jason Castagna’s heels for selection.

Should the Tigers fall over in a prelim, the small silver lining will be two first-round picks and five in the first three rounds of the draft.

It is part of a masterful trade, free agency and draft period that could reap the ultimate reward this year.

It slotted together like a jigsaw puzzle but has taken a season to construct as Caddy teased, Prestia plodded and Graham battled injury.

It was revealed on Friday night as a masterpiece where a series of interconnected trades worked to perfection.

As clubs consider what to throw at Jake Lever, Jake Stringer, maybe Josh Schache and Bryce Gibbs, last year the Tigers gave up plenty and got more back.

Richmond was desperate to add inside grunt to its midfield, and acquired Gold Coast midfielder Prestia and pick 24 for pick six (Jack Scrimshaw) and the Tigers’ 2017 second-round pick (now 34 but could fall anywhere from 32-35).

The Tigers sent Brett Deledio to Greater Western Sydney for two 2017 picks — Geelong’s first-rounder (13-17) and the Giants’ third-rounder (48-53).

When Geelong’s Caddy became available, they traded picks 24 and 64 for Caddy and 56.

With that pick they secured the 2016 Larke medallist, a tackling machine harshly considered by some recruiters to be an honest trier with poor foot skills.


That was Jack Graham, who has had 27 tackles in his first three games and is exactly what they need.

The Tigers ripped required player Toby Nankervis out of Sydney with the bargain-basement selection of 46.

Imagine them without him this year as Shaun Hampson battled a back injury, Ben Griffiths was concussed and Todd Elton came and went from the senior team with little impact.


When Ty Vickery left, they got a second-round compensation pick (29) and snared small forward Bolton.

Bolton looks to have a huge future and the Hawks seem to be shopping Vickery just a season in.

Those kind of buyer regrets once happened at Richmond, but now the boot is on the other foot.

To top it off, Deledio had a qualifying final stinker, and his saved salary cap room helped re-sign Dustin Martin.

The harsh reality of recruiting is one finals series can vindicate a trade.

The Tigers have made as many mistakes as most, but right now they could hardly have asked for more after hitting off-season paydirt.