THE THOUGHT raced through Jack Graham's mind as he met with Damien Hardwick.
Given the Tigers had yet to complete their main session in the lead-up to Saturday's AFL Grand Final, Graham knew the impending 'chat' with his coach wouldn't lead to good news.
Jack Graham at training on Tuesday. Picture: AFL Photos
"I knew once he grabbed me," Graham said from Richmond's rooms on Saturday night.
"I thought, 'this can't be good'. We hadn't even had the main session yet."
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Graham had bravely played out last week's preliminary final after dislocating his shoulder in the first quarter, but the injury hadn't recovered well in the days afterwards.
Having played a stunning role in Richmond's 2017 flag win, he wouldn't be part of its next.
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"It was hard to swallow," Graham said.
"But, at the same time, if there's a bloke who is 100 percent fit and I'm going to be 90 percent fit … I'd have still given everything I could have with that 90 percent, but it would have been silly to pick me and not the fit person.
"Marlion got his opportunity today and I couldn't be happier for him."
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Graham's replacement, Marlion Pickett, quickly became the biggest story of the week.
Making his AFL debut on the biggest stage of all, the mature-aged Pickett became the first player in 67 years to be making his first senior appearance in a premiership decider.
Graham's words of wisdom before the game proved to be a big inspiration, as Pickett finished with 22 disposals, nine score involvements, eight inside 50s and a goal.
"I just said to enjoy it and soak it all up," Graham said.
"That's what he did, really. He was composed, he was clean and he played a great game."
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Graham wasn't the only hard-luck story amid Richmond's 2019 premiership success.
Star defender Alex Rance ruptured his ACL in the first game of the year and missed virtually the entire season, rookie Sydney Stack dealt with a syndesmosis setback, while youngster Jack Higgins was hospitalised after a scary brain bleed and won't play for some time.
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However, Higgins – who returned to light duties on the training track this week – was overjoyed after watching his team claim its second premiership in three years.
Jack Higgins at training during the week. Picture: AFL Photos
"I wasn't really nervous," Higgins said afterwards.
"I'm a calm watcher. I think with what's happened to me in the past three months, it's made me a bit cooler. If I hadn't had that scare, I might have been a bit more nervous.
"It was awesome to see the boys get up today."
Having made a sensational start to his AFL career, Higgins said watching on Saturday made him desperate to re-join the group and one day taste that same premiership success.
"I'm watching my best mates win the flag," Higgins said.
"I'm a bit jealous, because a few of them got drafted at the same time as me. But it is still awesome, they're still my really good mates. It's sick as."
Higgins himself has a long road to recovery, having revealed the nasty scar on his head stemming from his surgery on Instagram this week, but is thankful he is on the mend.
The youngster is still likely to miss most of the 2020 season, but is improving by the day.
"I'm feeling better," Higgins said.
"I'm improving every day. I've had a few scares and I didn't really ever think I'd play footy again … I almost died a few times. Well, I didn't almost die. I might have died.
"There are a lot of people in life who have had worse things happen than me. I'm just grateful that I've survived and I'm feeling good now."
|Season||Grand Final||Margin||Norm Smith medallist|
|2019||Richmond 17.12 (114) d Greater Western Sydney 3.7 (25)||89 points||Dustin Martin (Rich)|
|1980||Richmond 23.21 (159) d Collingwood 9.24 (78)||81 points||Kevin Bartlett (Rich)|
|2017||Richmond 16.12 (108) d Adelaide 8.12 (60)||48 points||Dustin Martin (Rich)|
|1974||Richmond 18.20 (128) d North Melbourne 13.9 (87)||41 points||Kevin Sheedy (Rich)*|
|1934||Richmond 19.14 (128) d South Melbourne 12.17 (89)||39 points||-|
|1969||Richmond 12.13 (85) d Carlton 8.12 (60)||25 points||Michael Green (Rich)*|
|1973||Richmond 16.20 (106) d Carlton 12.14 (86)||20 points||Kevin Bartlett (Rich)*|
|1920||Richmond 7.10 (52) d Collingwood 5.5 (35)||17 points||-|
|1932||Richmond 13.14 (92) d Carlton 12.11 (83)||9 points||-|
|1967||Richmond 16.18 (114) d Geelong 15.15 (105)||9 points||Bill Goggin (Geel)*|
|1943||Richmond 12.14 (86) d Essendon 11.15 (81)||5 points||-|
|1921||Richmond 5.6 (36) d Carlton 4.8 (32)||4 points||-|
*Voted best and fairest before the Norm Smith Medal was presented from 1979