Toby Nankervis and Mitch Owens compete for the ball during the R22 match between Richmond and St Kilda at UTAS Stadium on August 13, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

FLYING solo as captain for the first time, Richmond's Toby Nankervis has vowed to maintain his physical brand of on-field leadership while acknowledging a responsibility to improve his discipline.

Nankervis has taken the reins as sole skipper after former co-captain Dylan Grimes stepped down, with the Tigers seeking a quick rise back up the ladder under new coach Adem Yze in 2024.

The 29-year-old ruckman felt he let his teammates down when his brutal bump on Sydney's Jake Lloyd led to a three-match ban last season.

But it won't affect the way he goes about his football as he attempts to set an example for his teammates.

"I'm never going to change the way I play," Nankervis told reporters on Wednesday.

"I want to improve as a player and probably the discipline side of the game is something I have to get better in.


"I think I have made great improvements in that area but I'll never change the way I want to play.

"Personally I feel like that's the best form of leadership at game time; that's what I really want to be my greatest asset."

Grimes stepped down this week after two seasons as co-captain with Nankervis, citing the need to focus on his own football and life balance.

The veteran defender will remain a supportive voice for premiership teammate Nankervis, who has grown into the captaincy role since triple flag-winning skipper Trent Cotchin handed it over.

"I'm a lot more comfortable in my own skin now," Nankervis said.

"I'm really comfortable with the way I turn up to the footy club every day, the way I want to lead.

"Taking over from Cotch there was a little bit of fear, I suppose, but I can't be Trent Cotchin and I can't be Chris Newman who was before him.

Toby Nankervis and Dylan Grimes lead the team out ahead of the R22 match between Richmond and St Kilda at UTAS Stadium on August 13, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

"I just want to be myself and the best version of myself. I'm still learning and growing every day and still making mistakes but I'm really loving it."

Newman is back at Richmond as an assistant to Yze alongside former North Melbourne captain Jack Ziebell, with the pair available to pass on their wisdom and experience to Nankervis.

Nankervis is excited about the future following the recent retirement of premiership teammates Cotchin and Jack Riewoldt, as well as Shane Edwards a year earlier, and departure of former coach Damien Hardwick in May.

"We have lost a lot of experience over the last few years but I feel like the group's ready," Nankervis said.

"We've got a great group of core players that are ready to take that next step and the lessons that we've got from these great leaders ... really developed that next phase of leaders coming through.

"It's our turn now to get the club back to where we want to go."