Dejected Tigers players after the round nine match between Richmond and Western Bulldogs at the MCG, May 11, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

THINGS are dire at Richmond.

Barely three seasons removed from a third flag in four years, the Tigers are staring down the barrel of a long rebuild. Five straight losses have Adem Yze's side marooned in second bottom with a 1-8 record and a percentage of just 65.6.

Saturday night's 91-point hammering at the hands of the Bulldogs summed up the problems facing Yze's Richmond rebuild, as form and fitness concerns brought a series of prominent issues to the fore. looks at the five key issues facing the Tigers for the rest of 2024.

Richmond needs to find its identity under Yze. In the club's glory years, ball-winning was never a dominant facet of good Tiger teams. Instead, Richmond relied on defending strongly, scoring off turnover and moving the ball well in possession. But now, the fact the team is struggling across the board is compounding its inability to even win the ball. According to Champion Data, Richmond ranks dead-last in the League in differentials for disposals (-52.8), uncontested possessions (-44) and clearances (-8) so far this season. They also rank second-last for contested possessions (-9.9) and bottom-four for groundballs (-6.8). At the moment, there's no real area where the Tigers are performing well from a statistical perspective. Therefore, not winning the football is immediately and consistently putting a young side on the back foot. It might sound simplistic, but Richmond just getting its hands on the footy more often could make Yze's job in inspiring a couple of performances out of his young team so much easier.


As disappointing as the side's form has been this year, Richmond has also had no luck whatsoever. In fact, on the injury front, there is a chance the Tigers could have the bare minimum 26 players to choose from this weekend. Star players like Jacob Hopper (hamstring), Tom Lynch (hamstring) and Tim Taranto (wrist) have missed large parts of the season already. Fellow premiership stars like Liam Baker (leg), Dylan Grimes (soreness) and Jack Graham (hamstring) have also been sidelined. Talented youngsters like Judson Clarke (knee), Josh Gibcus (knee) and Jack Ross (foot) are out long-term. Over the weekend Maurice Rioli jnr. (syndesmosis), Sam Banks (concussion), Seth Campbell (knee) and Tyler Sonsie (wrist) added to their fitness woes. Even in the VFL, James Trezise (concussion) and Jacob Koschitzke (ankle) went down. Dion Prestia (hamstring) and Noah Balta (knee) have also recently returned from their own injury concerns. It makes judging Richmond's form difficult. After all, who knows how close this is to their best side? But it's certainly compounding the problems at hand.

MEDICAL ROOM Check out the full injury list


For a team that is being consistently forced to rely on youngsters and untested talent in the wake of the side's list transition and fitness issues, Richmond is simply not getting enough from its experienced players. Dustin Martin's drop-off has been the biggest, and perhaps the most alarming aspect of the side's dismal start to the year. According to Champion Data's AFL Player Ratings – the stats guru's most definitive number to measure influence on a game – Martin has dipped from averaging 17.3 through the side's glory years of 2017-20, to 7.9 this season. His disposal numbers in that time have dropped from 25.7 to 19.4, while his score involvements have also gone from 7.8 to 6.3. He's not the only star to be struggling, though. In that same time Jayden Short's AFL Player Ratings points have gone from 8.3 to 6.6, Grimes has dropped from 8.5 to 3.6, while Prestia has dipped from 12.6 to 10.9. Grimes has also seen his intercept numbers fall from 5.9 to 4.8, while Prestia is averaging significantly fewer disposals, contested possessions and clearances. It's time for the veterans to start leading the way.

ALL THE NUMBERS Check out the AFL stats centre

Dustin Martin after the round seven match between Richmond and Melbourne at the MCG, April 24, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

The future of the football club will be heavily dependent on the key list calls Richmond will make at season's end. Martin remains one of the game's biggest names, but is yet to decide upon his future, Baker has garnered significant interest from West Coast and Fremantle, Graham is a free agent that has interest from West Coast and has previously flirted with a move back home to South Australia, Balta is a pre-agent who would attract interest, veterans Grimes and Prestia are coming towards the end of their deals, while contracted talent like Daniel Rioli and Lynch could be floated on the trade market. The debate for Richmond list boss Blair Hartley will be balancing the club's biggest need – bringing in quality young talent – with not cutting too deep and exposing the youngsters already at Punt Road. Richmond currently has one first-round pick (its own, which is currently at No.2 in the order), as well as two second-round picks and three third-round selections. However, the club will undoubtedly be chasing multiple picks inside the top 15-20 selections to really kickstart its rebuild in the coming years. Could the likes of Baker, Graham and Rioli be its avenue to getting higher up the order?

TRADE HUB All the latest player movement news

Liam Baker celebrates during the round five match between West Coast and Richmond at Optus Stadium, April 14, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

Richmond's recent success has meant limited access to the best junior talent in the country. Since 2015, the Tigers have chosen just once inside the top-15 at the draft (taking Gibcus at pick No.9 in 2021). Combined with the club's decision to trade out of both the 2022 and 2023 drafts – acquiring Giants duo Taranto and Hopper for the suite of early selections – it's meant there's a gap in quality young players coming through the doors at Punt Road. The Tigers have skipped four of the last eight drafts (also trading out of 2016 for Prestia and shopping its first-round pick in 2020 for a second first-rounder in 2021). The result has been Richmond's starting position at three of the last four drafts falling at pick No.40 in 2020 (Samson Ryan), pick No.49 in 2022 (Kaleb Smith) and pick No.40 in 2023 (Kane McAuliffe). It's impacting the quality of young talent earning games under Yze. So far this year, Champion Data notes that 10 players aged under 25 have played three or more games. However, only Tom Brown has a positive relative rating – which measures a player's rating compared to the expectation for players in their age and position – among those players. Such on-field success, and the ensuing list calls, has brought about Richmond's desperation in acquiring early picks this year and could necessitate the decisions on the above players like Baker, Graham and Rioli.

DRAFT HUB Click here for the latest draft news

Tom Brown during the round nine match between Richmond and Western Bulldogs at the MCG, May 11, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos