Troy Chaplin will join Alex Rance in Richmond's back line next season
THERE was little doubt Richmond defender Alex Rance was keen on the idea of former Port Adelaide backman Troy Chaplin joining the Tigers last year.
In the opening few days of the free agency period, Rance used Twitter to show his support for the Tigers' interest in the 26-year-old.
"Dear trade period, 1x Chaplin thanks. Regards trossman," Rance posted first.
Then, "Tick tick tick.... #bringonchappy", later that day.
And, "Ok fair crack of the whip port this has been a very long day for me!! Just hand @troychaplin30 over. Scooter rides r still in the deal," before, "Pearce cleared for trade to Freo means more cash for chap at port. I'll throw in 5 free scooter rides!! #chappytotigs2013."
Then finally, when Chaplin and the Tigers agreed to terms, there was the celebratory tweet of, "Wooooooooooooooooo. Welcome to tiger land @troychaplin30. I have already picked a locker for u. #fantrosstic", on October 4.
Having played in an inexperienced backline for the past few years, Rance's excitement to recruit the mature defender, who placed second in Port's best and fairest in 2010, was understandable.
"[Chaplin will] just add that experience to the backline because I think we do have the youngest backline in the AFL," Rance told AFL.com.au during the Tigers' Alice Springs community camp last week.
"It will be good to just have his experience because … when you have those lapses mentally, you can have another bloke to pick you up in different scenarios and at different times.
"It will be fantastic to have his advice."
Chaplin might have 2cm and a few kgs on Rance but the sixth-year Tiger still expects to play on the competition's "gorillas" in 2013.
With the exception of a trio of games, Rance said he was pleased with his season last year – his first of consistently playing on the League's gun forwards.
Fremantle's Matthew Pavlich kicked six goals on him in round 11, Taylor Walker and then-Crow Kurt Tippett combined for eight in round 14 and North Melbourne's Drew Petrie booted seven in round 17 – five of which came in the last quarter.
Rance said last year was a largely positive learning curve but he's looking forward to picking up more tips from Chaplin.
"He's already given me heaps of advice," Rance said.
"Now, I think I'm more mentally prepared and the consistency will come.
"His leadership is fantastic and he's a taller than me but I think a lot of the roles will stay the same and it's a matter of him giving us a chop-out mark."
Rance didn't play against the Indigenous All Stars on Friday night in Alice Springs but said he needed rest ahead of the NAB Cup.
After playing every game last year, he carried his momentum into the pre-season with a strong summer.
The Tigers' NAB Cup campaign starts on February 22 against Melbourne and North Melbourne at Etihad Stadium.
Alex Rance is a defender in NAB AFL Fantasy. He averaged 71.41 points in 2012. Register your team at our AFL Fantasy Hub
Jennifer Phelan is a reporter for AFL Media. Follow her on Twitter @AFL_JenPhelan.