RICHMOND'S assault on a third premiership in four seasons could depend on how much its emerging crop – including Jack Higgins and the "untapped" Sydney Stack – improves.
Jack Riewoldt and his Tigers have bucked the AFL's equality measures to remain at the top for an extended period but he thinks the young cubs have a big role to play if that is to continue.
Higgins, who is on the comeback trail from brain surgery, second-year sensation Stack and premiership forwards Daniel Rioli and Shai Bolton are front of mind when Riewoldt says that.
The latter three were part of Richmond's round one victory over Carlton in late March, while Higgins will make a triumphant return for Thursday's season resumption against Collingwood at the MCG.
The 21-year-old forward-midfielder last played in round 13 last year before his world was turned upside down.
"We know we need to keep growing but I can see some real areas of growth for our group, just from the natural maturing of some of our younger players," Riewoldt said at the launch of Rebel's AFL partnership announcement.
"You go into any season looking for where the growth is going to come from and I think for myself and the coaches we can see some real growth from our younger guys.
"One guy who's probably been out of the spotlight a bit is Jack Higgins.
"He went through a fairly big medical episode last year and had a lot of challenges off field but he's come back and presented really well – he's such a great young character and a good person."
WATCH TRENT COTCHIN IN LAST TIME I CRIED
Richmond skipper opens up on the latest episode of Last Time I Cried, presented by AIA VitalityWatch Now
The Tigers aren't short on star power, with Riewoldt, dual Norm Smith medallist Dustin Martin, Dion Prestia, Trent Cotchin, Dylan Grimes and Tom Lynch among the competition's elite.
That certainly helps their cause but there is much more to their success, according to the three-time Coleman medallist.
"Our culture is not all based around winning and being the best – it revolves around enjoyment and having fun," Riewoldt said.
"Naturally, we've got guys who want to push themselves to be the best they can be, and that shines through the entire group.
"But we just enjoy spending so much time together and that rubs off on the way we want to play."
Richmond's round two blockbuster against fellow flag fancy Collingwood will be played without a crowd but Riewoldt was confident it would still be a great TV spectacle.
"We train maybe 500m away from each other, they're a powerhouse of the competition, have had some success over the last few years, they're well-coached and we're pretty similar organisations," he said.
"We love playing against them, because we know it's going to be a challenge and we highly respect them and are obviously both supported by a lot of people.
"We feel like we play a pretty good brand of footy that stacks up against any opposition … so I think it's a pretty tantalising game on paper."