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Chaplin's forward experiment pays off for Tigers

Nathan Schmook  February 20, 2016 12:53 PM

Tigers pleased with their 'very good' kids Brendon Lade says his team battled hard and the youngsters stood up
AFL 2016 NAB Challenge - Fremantle v Richmond

Troy Chaplin flies high for a mark against Fremantle on Friday night

We know Chaplin can play back, but he's also shown he can play forward

TROY Chaplin's successful move into Richmond's forward line on Friday night has vindicated a summer experiment that could extend into the regular season as the Tigers refresh their backline.

Club champion Alex Rance is likely to be supported in defence primarily by David Astbury in 2016, with the latter coming off a standout pre-season that could see him realise his potential after several injury setbacks.

With a new third tall option emerging in mature-age recruit Nathan Broad – and Dylan Grimes and Jake Batchelor regulars in the back six last year – Richmond has the opportunity to experiment with Chaplin.

The former Port Adelaide defender has kicked just 14 goals in his 207 games as a defender, including only four in three seasons with the Tigers.

But he looked comfortable at the other end of the ground on Friday night, finishing with 12 possessions and 1.2 in the Tigers' 60-point NAB Challenge loss against Fremantle. 

Click here for full match coverage and stats

Assistant coach Brendon Lade said the 29-year-old had an opportunity to become a valuable utility in his 13th season after also playing the role in the Tigers' intraclub matches.

"We're still looking for that key forward to kick a lot of goals for us, so there's a lot of opportunity for someone to step up and do it," Lade said.

"It's handy to have a player in the side that can go both ends.

"We know Chaplin can play back, but he's also shown he can play forward.

"And having that bit of flexibility now with less rotations [is valuable]."

Leading goalkicker Jack Riewoldt was missing from the Tigers side that travelled to Mandurah, but Ty Vickery and Ben Griffiths played, each copping head knocks.

Vickery kicked 31 goals last season (No.2 at the club), while Griffiths managed just 12 in a season interrupted by shoulder and finger injuries.

Coach Damien Hardwick has been fond of playing a three-pronged tall attack.