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'Anything is possible' as Leppitsch takes over Tiger forwards

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 07:  Justin Leppitsch the assistant coach of the Tigers looks on during a Richmond Tigers AFL pre-season training session at ME Bank Centre on November 7, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia.  (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images/AFL Media)
Justin Leppitsch has a smile back on his face at Tigerland
I've come to Richmond to support 'Dimma' and make the players better and almost finish off the work I was doing years ago
Justin Leppitsch

RICHMOND'S chances of overcoming its scoring difficulties in 2016 received a boost when former Brisbane Lions coach Justin Leppitsch agreed to return to the club to coach the forwards.

It's not going to be an easy task.

The Tigers were fourth worst in scoring last year and had an inside 50 differential of -9.7, meaning opportunities were limited and the ability to convert not much better. 

But Leppitsch believes he's come back to the Tigers even better placed to make an impact than he did from 2010-2013 when he worked with the defenders. 

Not only does he understand exactly what the senior coach wants from his assistants now, he is also back doing what he loves most, working in a hands-on capacity with players to teach them how to play specific roles within the team.

Leppitsch is looking forward to working with the likes of Jack Riewoldt, Daniel Rioli, Ben Griffiths and Sam Lloyd as they build a forward line that will be without ruck-forward Ty Vickery and midfield-forward Brett Deledio.

"I'll spend some time with them first and work out what their focus is and no doubt we will have a defensive mindset to make sure we can keep the ball in there and alive to give them chances," Leppitsch told AFL.com.au

The 41-year-old's familiar grin appears when he's asked whether Riewoldt will play closer to goal more often. 

"What's 'Dimma' [senior coach Damien Hardwick] been saying about that?" he asks. 

"He is definitely not your stay at home all year [player] but he is not your high half-forward either. We have got to make sure we use the strengths of our players and put them in the right positions." 

As to whether Dustin Martin will find himself inside 50 more often, he's equally diplomatic. 

"Obviously with the midfield mix with [Josh] Caddy and [Dion] Prestia coming in that is going to add some complexity. We haven't spent a long time talking about how that will look yet but I am sure that will mean an extra midfielder spending some time down in the forward line," Leppitsch said.

They're fair responses given he only began a little over a week ago and the senior players aren't back yet, but it also indicates Leppitsch is embracing his latest challenge. 

Few remember he made his name as a forward first, kicking 45 goals in 1996 and 50 goals in 1997 before being moved to defence where he won three flags and earned three All Australian selections.   

Despite his stint at the Lions not working out as he hoped with just 14 wins in three seasons, he said he's refreshed and ready, having taken a month off after finishing in Brisbane before determining his next step.

That next step was once again in the familiar environment at Richmond alongside Hardwick, Lions premiership teammate Blake Caracella, Ben Rutten and Andrew McQualter. 

"I've come to Richmond to support 'Dimma' and make the players better and almost finish off the work I was doing years ago," Leppitsch said.

"Anything is possible."