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Rival clubs circle Tigers' flag mastermind

Are you ready for change? Wednesday Footy Feed with Matt Thompson

RICHMOND'S premiership mastermind Blake Caracella remains out of contract and in hot demand for 2019.

Damien Hardwick's midfield senior assistant is yet to come to terms with the Tigers after two seasons at Punt Road with a win-loss ratio of 31-11.  

AFL.com.au understands Caracella is aware of outside interest from several clubs.

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It comes ahead of a frantic week in assistant coaching circles, with clubs advised to notify out-of-contract assistants of their futures by August 1.

While Richmond wishes to extend Caracella's stay at the club, there is set to be a number of openings across the competition.

St Kilda has left the bulk of its uncontracted assistants in limbo after meetings in the past fortnight, while Gold Coast has informed Matthew Primus and Andy Lovell they won't be required in 2019.  

Essendon, where Caracella won a flag in 2000, will have at least one spot available after senior assistant Mark Neeld was let go in May. 

With two premierships to his name, Caracella is highly rated at a number of clubs, including Geelong where he spent seven years from 2010-2016.

While Caracella still lives in Geelong and has a close relationship with coach Chris Scott (the pair regularly play golf), the Cats are expected to retain their current coaching panel.  

The introduction of the soft cap on football department spending, which has been in place since 2015, is another factor clubs have to consider when offering new deals.

Richmond was forced to act at the end of 2016, cutting coaching support staff from 11 (including two part-time) to seven, at the same time Caracella arrived.  

Caracella has been instrumental in turning the Tigers' game plan into a winning formula, responsible for the ball movement in last year's drought-breaking premiership.  

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While Hardwick extended his contract until the end of 2021 in March, Caracella's initial two-year deal will expire at season's end.

After a 187-game career at Essendon, Brisbane and Collingwood that included two premierships, Caracella joined the Pies as a development coach for three seasons in 2007.  

Ahead of the 2010 season, Caracella joined Geelong under coach Mark Thompson and head of football Neil Balme – the man who had recruited him to Collingwood as a player in 2005.

After Thompson's departure at the end of 2010, Caracella was joined by Scott, the pair teammates under Leigh Matthews at Brisbane.

Caracella spent seven seasons at Kardinia Park and was accepted into the AFL's level four coaching program in 2015.

One of nine members inducted, Caracella was joined by then assistant coaches Stuart Dew, Simon Goodwin and Brendon Bolton, plus current Geelong head of football Simon Lloyd.

The Tigers landed Caracella and Justin Leppitsch ahead of the 2017 season after assistants Greg Mellor, Ross Smith and Mark Williams were informed they were no longer required.  

Caracella's appointment reunited him with Balme at a third club, just weeks after Balme arrived from Collingwood.

Richmond players have previously spoken about Caracella's influence on change at the club.  

Midfielder Kane Lambert, who went from fringe player in 2016 to third in the best and fairest in the premiership year of 2017, credited Caracella for much of his improvement.

"I knew I had more to offer and Blake Caracella made me believe in myself more than anyone else," Lambert told the AFL Players website.

"He sees things that no one else really does but when he explains it to you, you're confused as to why you'd never noticed it before.

"He's very simplistic in how he goes about it but he's so smart.

"He has helped me with my off-ball running and positioning and, again, the belief. He didn't expect me to do anything that he didn't think I was capable of. He helped me to believe in myself." 

Lambert and Richmond face Collingwood in the game of the season on Saturday at the MCG, when the Tigers will seek to maintain their position at the top of the table.