IT'S TIME for Richmond to unleash Jack Riewoldt.
To let him have his head, to encourage him to golooking for some "me time".
To allow him to gesticulate and arm-wave at histeammates.
To ensure he's directed a whole lot more inside-50footy than he has been getting to this point of the 2013 season.
Riewoldt is far more a team player than manycommentators acknowledge, yet at times he gives the impression he's feelinglike a caged wild animal.
Coach Damien Hardwick's decision to make Riewoldt justone component of his big man options in the forward line, and not the option,is understandable and in keeping with accepted 2013 practice.
In also directing football to Tyrone Vickery, LukeMcGuane and latterly Aaron Edwards, Hardwick is working toward having a versatile,unpredictable forward structure that always has opposition teams guessing.
But, with due respect to Vickery, McGuane and Edwards,they have nowhere near the football ability of the big man with whom they shareTigers' forward 50m space.
Opponents don't have the fear of god put into themwhen the Tigers direct inside-50 balls to those guys.
They do, though, when it heads Riewoldt's way.
Riewoldt hasn't cut loose in 2013, yet with 42 goalshas just three fewer than Coleman Medal leader Josh Kennedy.
In 2013, Riewoldt's personal impact on the scoreboardis similar to the previous two seasons, managing about 20 per cent of theTigers' score.
In 2010, when Riewoldt won his first Coleman Medal,his 78 goals equated to about 30 per cent of the Tigers' tally.
He is taking, on average, 0.6 fewer marks per matchcompared with 2012 figures (3.8), but 0.3 more than 2011.
This year, he has one bag of goals – seven in roundtwo – and has twice booted five in a game.
Incredibly, Richmond directed morefootball to McGuane (25.4 per cent) in the nine matches he played than Riewoldt(24.1 per cent). Vickery is third with 18.2 per cent.
Since round 10, though, the Tigers havebeen looking for him on more occasions – Riewoldt 32.5 per cent, Vickery 18.7per cent and Edwards 11.4 per cent.
So maybe change is already underway.
But one thing that cannot be recorded in statisticaldata is a player's x-Factor.
Riewoldt, more than any other Tiger, has a highX-Factor. When he's "on", he can be unstoppable.
Hardwick will obviously do with Riewoldt what he seesfit. And no doubt he is more than satisfied with how his forward structure hasbeen ticking along in 2013.
Yet we'd suggest that, beginning this week againstGold Coast in Cairns, he removes the shackles on Riewoldt.
Then do it again the following week against Fremantleat the MCG.
The Dockers will be without their superstar defenderLuke McPharlin in that game, so why not seek to put them even further out oftheir comfort zone?
Then the Sydney Swans await Richmond, followed byHawthorn.
Richmond needs to do something different to what ithas shown to this point of 2013 – it has been unable to defeat any team aboveit on the ladder - if it is to compete in that Freo-Swans-Hawks stretch.
Sixth on the ladder after 15 rounds is a significantachievement for Richmond, but there is a lot of footy left before the seasoncan be properly judged as a success or failure.
Things could go either way from here.
Tricking things up a bit from here, including givingRiewoldt a licence to strut around as the main man, could even keep alive theoutside hopes of a top-four finish.