WHILE we wait for play to resume, and with the little bit of knowledge we've gleaned from round one, we're taking this opportunity to put the microscope on every club.
THE PRESSURE GAUGE Which coach is under the most heat?
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The biggest lesson from round one was…
They're still hungry. What better way to show you mean business again than a seven-goal first quarter in the opening game of the season? The Tigers had their clash against Carlton all but sewn up at quarter-time when they led the Blues by 31 points and they cruised to victory thereafter. It was another statement of power from the reigning premiers, with a fit list ready to go again.
What's their weapon in 2020?
Two flags in the past three years, and a shock preliminary final exit in between, shows Richmond is the team to beat again in 2020. The Tigers lost Brandon Ellis to Gold Coast in the off-season, and Alex Rance retired, although Rance played only one game last year. But they have retained their core group and they have shown no signs of slowing. Their midfield is as deep and potent as any in the competition, they are the best drilled side and have a forward half brimming with options.
What could be their downfall?
After so much success, beware the copy cats. Clubs have had a long time to study Richmond's formula over a three-year period, so it will be interesting if any can use this time without games to further analyse how the Tigers have built their dominance. Or, will it be superseded by a new game style that takes over the Richmond blueprint? Positionally, other clubs could look at Richmond's backline as an area to target but it held up well last year.
Who missed out on round one and what does it mean for them?
It was a luxury of riches at Punt Road ahead of round one, with midfielders Jack Ross and Kamdyn McIntosh, ruckman Callum Coleman-Jones and defender Ryan Garthwaite the emergencies. All will have senior exposure throughout the year if games can be played. Riley Collier-Dawkins will be pushing for an AFL debut, while Jack Higgins was ill before round one but should break back into the Tigers' line-up.
Which players benefit from the break?
With such a healthy list, the Tigers are primed to restart the season after the coronavirus-enforced break in a strong position. The club went into round one with only Bachar Houli unavailable through injury, and the veteran's calf strain was due to keep him sidelined for four weeks at most. Nick Vlastuin was concussed in round one and had been ruled out for round two if it was played as scheduled.
Who looked set for a breakout season?
All of the Tigers' round one line-up were premiership players (across either 2017 or 2019 campaigns) apart from Sydney Stack, who enjoyed a super 2019 before injury struck him ahead of the finals. The player who could add something permanently to the Richmond line-up is Marlion Pickett. Pickett's famous Grand Final debut last year was an amazing storyline, but the club is excited about what he could do across a home and away season.
Pickett is out of contract and had hoped to play some games before opening discussions. Talks were already underway for extensions for Jack Graham and Collier-Dawkins before the COVID-19 break paused them, while Toby Nankervis is also out of contract at the end of 2020. Houli signed a one-year extension last year taking him through to the end of this season, but overall the Tigers have the majority of their 'must-haves' locked in.