OUT-OF-CONTRACT Richmond ruckman Toby Nankervis says his future is with the Tigers as he prepares to shoulder the big man duties in the Toyota AFL Finals Series.
Nankervis, who was omitted earlier this season and then suffered a serious syndesmosis ankle injury, is among the Tigers without a deal for next year.
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But with discussions understood to be taking place over a longer-term deal, the two-time premiership ruckman says he wants to remain at the club.
"I absolutely want to be at the club. [Contract talks are] on-going but for me I've got bigger and better things to worry about at the moment and all my focus is on this first final coming up and I can't wait for that opportunity. The other stuff takes care itself I think," Nankervis told AFL.com.au ahead of the Tigers' qualifying final clash with Brisbane on Friday night.
"To be honest I've just put my focus on getting back from injury and then getting a part of a pretty good outfit. Then I can hopefully put my case forward like that. The other stuff for me is secondary."
Nankervis will lead the Tigers' midfield almost single-handedly in its bid for its third flag in four seasons after they lost Ivan Soldo to a season-ending knee injury two weeks ago and young back-up Callum Coleman-Jones is serving his 10-game suspension for his COVID-19 breach.
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It comes alongside a return to form for Nankervis, who played in the season-opening clash with Carlton but was then left out when games resumed in June. He then suffered the ankle injury in round five – in the same game as premiership teammate Dion Prestia had the same setback – which kept Nankervis out until round 14.
Since then, though, the former Swan has steadily picked up his form and is a crucial cog to the Tigers' plans this finals.
"I had a really interrupted pre-season and I just wanted to get back to playing footy every week. It was disappointing not to play [when the season resumed] but I knew I had to play well at the lower level and I'd get my chance if I played well enough and I just wanted to get some continuity back again," he said.
"I've really enjoyed the last month or so and just being able to get back out with the boys and play regular footy again. It's been so good. I feel like I'm starting to really find some confidence back in my body which is good."
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Throughout the injury rehabilitation Nankervis, Prestia and a group of Tigers teammates stayed in Victoria when Richmond was first sent up to Queensland for what was originally viewed as a five-week stint.
But as Victoria's COVID-19 situation worsened, and the AFL's set-up in Queensland became more fixed, they joined their teammates up north.
"It was weird. We thought they were going to come back but everything changed so quick. It was difficult watching on but it's all a part of it and I'm grateful to be up here now and amongst the boys in this hot weather," he said.
Nankervis, who played in the club's 2017 and 2019 triumphs, hadn't yet considered what it would mean to add a third medal to his collection.
"It's definitely a nice thought but there's so much to do until then. I think each game is a massive challenge and the competition is as even and as tough as it's ever been so I don't think I'll be looking too far ahead," he said.