INJURIES, form and integrating a fresh forward line have led to a somewhat inconsistent season for Richmond so far, but winger Kate Dempsey has been steady as a rock.
The 28-year-old is in career-best touch in her fifth season, having joined the Tigers with pick No.84 in the 2019 draft ahead of the club's first AFLW year.
And Dempsey credits a simple swivel of the head from her teammates as to why her numbers have exploded this year, with her average disposals near-doubling from 11.4 to 20.6.
Dempsey's average metres gained – a key stat for wingers, who are integral in helping move the footy from the backline to the forward line, usually around the outside of the mass of players – have also risen dramatically, from 165.9m to 396.2m.
She is seventh overall for average metres gained, the highest of all wingers.
"We're utilising our wings really well. Wings for the first few years of AFLW have probably been under-utilised, and now just watching the game open up and flow, the wingers are just licking their lips," Dempsey told afl.com.au.
"It's credit to the girls that they're using it and looking that way, so it's more of a team thing than a me thing, which is really cool.
"The wings have to play a really disciplined role in the team in holding width (across the field) and holding structure of the team, not getting sucked in and just chasing the ball.
"You have to make sure you're holding that outside. You have to also do a lot of help-back running to our defence, so we often are an extra defender.
"But we also work hard going forward, so you end up being all over the ground, but it has to be a super disciplined position, otherwise your opponent is out the back and skirting away very quickly.
"It takes, I think, quite a selfless player to play that role, but it's really cool to see it opening up."
Richmond made finals last year, finishing fourth but hurtling headfirst into grand finalists Brisbane and a fired-up North Melbourne side that had dropped to eighth after the hardest fixture of the season.
"Getting into the finals last year was a great opportunity and great experience for us to have that, and to play in a big game," Dempsey said.
"What it's done for us is just put a fire in the belly that we're going to be back there this year.
"That's what we fully believe. Not only that, but we're going to go one better and win a final. That's been on our vision board, and that's what we're going to do this year."
As of round six, Richmond has the longest injury list in the AFLW (eight of 30), and this week have been forced to name train-on players Shannon Danckert (ex-Gold Coast) and Lauren Caruso (Port Melbourne VFLW) as emergencies.
The injuries themselves are a mixture of soft-tissue, impact/collision and illness, with former No.1 pick Ellie McKenzie, defensive leader Bec Miller and both Sarah and Jess Hosking among those sidelined.
"It's sometimes tricky for the coaches and how they move the magnets. But we have full faith in our coaches that they're just going to make it work," Dempsey said.
"We're really lucky now that over the years, through some really good picks from Trenna (Trent Mosbey, list manager), that we've established such depth in our team, that when someone's out, we can move round and make it work.
"Every week, there's such good new fresh faces. 'G-Train' (Caitlin Greiser) up forward is giving us some great looks, particularly in her contest work. Molly (Eastman) coming off half-back, Charli (Wicksteed) has just given us some energy.
"Not only that, there's been 'old' girls doing things too, like Poppy Kelly moving up forward, Meg Macdonald kicked her first goal (two weeks ago), it's very exciting to see that happen."