HAMSTRINGS used to plague Dylan Grimes.

Between his debut in round 22 of 2010 and round 22 of 2016, the AFL Record Season Guide lists Grimes as having missed 39 matches through hamstring injuries alone.

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Tiger fans would hold their collective breath whenever Grimes would lunge for a loose ball at top speed, fearful for the sudden stop and clutch.

During that period of six years, the key back played 79 games in total.

There was a trip to Germany to see expert and Bayern Munich head doctor Hans-Wilhelm Müller-Wohlfahrt, as well as surgery on both hamstring tendons.

Coming up to almost three years later, could Grimes be poised for a surprise best and fairest?

Grimes has done a little bit of everything as the lynchpin to Richmond's back six. Picture: AFL Photos

After finishing fifth in the club's best and fairest in both 2017 and 2018, Richmond's injury crisis earlier this season – in conjunction with Grimes' own stunning form – means he's a serious chance to win this year's Jack Dyer Medal.

Always rated highly internally – Grimes has won Richmond's Francis Bourke award for demonstrating club values for the past two years – his reputation in the wider football community has skyrocketed since Alex Rance tore his ACL in round one.

The 28-year-old has been thrust into the apex position in Richmond's triangular defence, playing what commentators have often referred to as the goalkeeper role.

He has the confidence in his fellow defenders to peel off his direct opponent and – to borrow a phrase from netball – be a "here if you need" teammate.

Ball sails over the back of a pack, tumbling towards goal? Grimes is there.

A dangerous long bomb inside 50? Grimes is there.

Liam Baker suddenly finds himself in a one-on-one against Mason Cox? You guessed it, Grimes is there.

Against Collingwood last weekend, he took his game to another level again, swallowing up loose balls, killing contests and being recognised as the best player on the ground by the coaches with nine AFLCA votes.

"Dylan Grimes, once again I speak about him most weeks, the way he controls that back six," Richmond coach Damien Hardwick said post-match.

"He's always been really highly rated internally from our point of view, but I think people are starting to see the qualities he brings not only to our game, but the game of AFL.

"There's his lieutenant in Dave Astbury, and we're seeing the consistency in performance of Nathan Broad as well, another one of those underrated guys we're really pleased with.

"Don't get me wrong, I'd love to have Alex (Rance) back, but the situation is, those guys have really improved their game and defensively, we're pretty tough to score against at the moment, which is impressive."

Teammate and fellow intercept defender Nick Vlastuin said Grimes is a good chance for his first All Australian guernsey.

"Everyone's taken the load (since Rance's injury), but it's probably more fallen to 'Grimesy' and he's in some career-best form," Vlastuin said.

"He's always been that lockdown defender, but now he's built his game on dropping off and helping the other backs down there. That was the role 'Rancey' was playing."

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