RICHMOND coach Damien Hardwick likes what he sees in Josh Caddy as a defensive wingman and has vowed to give him an extended run in the new role.
Caddy was a premiership forward in 2017 and took his game to new heights last year by kicking 46 goals in 22 games, but a leg injury and a stint in the VFL caused a rethink among the Tigers' brains trust, who recast him as a midfielder.
The 26-year-old returned to the Richmond line-up against Melbourne at the MCG on Saturday night and although he didn't win a lot of the ball, he performed the kind of selfless role Hardwick demanded from him as the Tigers triumphed by 33 points.
Josh Caddy gets a handball away against the Demons. Picture: AFL Photos
Caddy had 13 possessions (four contested) – five kicks and eight handballs – took four marks, laid two tackles, had a centre clearance and snapped a typically opportunistic goal.
Hardwick was impressed.
"He got better as the game went on," the Tigers coach told reporters post-match.
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"He was probably reflective of the side in the first half, but in the second half he started to show us what he could do in that position.
"He uses the ball really well, he wins the ball really well, he's a great size for that wing/back role.
"It's something that we'll continue to explore."
Richmond led by just three points early in the third quarter before breaking the game open with a decisive burst of four successive goals to effectively ice the contest by the last change.
It would have been over earlier had the Tigers finished off their work better.
"It looked like a Richmond game (in the third term) – forward-half turnovers for that quarter were quite high, a lot of inside 50s," Hardwick said.
"We probably could have scored a few more easier goals. We probably made it a bit more difficult than it could have been. We're normally very good at sharing the ball around, (so) that was probably a bit uncharacteristic tonight."
The fourth-placed Tigers will close out the minor rounds with MCG clashes with an enlivened Carlton, reigning premier West Coast and the improved Brisbane.
"They'll give us a real idea where we're at. We control our own destiny and we get to see where we finish," Hardwick said.
"The competition's in a pretty good space at the moment. There's a lot that are capable of playing some really good footy and beating other sides, and we're probably in that boat."
Hardwick watched the Tigers' entire VFL game on Saturday and was impressed with returning ruckman Toby Nankervis, young midfielder Jack Ross in his return from ankle surgery and mid-season draftee Marlion Pickett in his first game in the yellow and black.
Nankervis, in his third VFL game since an adductor injury, had 20 possessions, seven marks, 34 hitouts and kicked a goal, and is in line to return against the Blues.
"He was terrific. He was probably close to BOG (best-on-ground)," Hardwick said.
"Our medical staff just wanted to make sure he was right, obviously with the (prospect of playing on Melbourne's) Max Gawn. We wanted to make sure he's done enough work to play for the remainder of the home and away [season]. He'll certainly come into calculations next week.
"In saying that, (Ivan) Soldo and Mabs (Mabior Chol) did some really good things against a really good opponent. Gawn was pretty good tonight – he was probably back to his best."