FORMER Richmond ruckman Ivan Maric's impact has continued to reverberate at the club, long after his retirement at the conclusion of the 2017 season.
Beloved by Richmond fans for his uncompromising play and quiet but strong passion for the club, Maric took up a combined ruck coach/player development role at the Tigers upon his retirement.
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Maric's influence in bringing cousin Ivan Soldo and rising defender Noah Balta to the club (and by extension, Balta's cousin and Category B rookie Mate Colina) is well known, but less discussed are his actions away from the ruck group.
Konrad Marshall's new book, The Hard Way: The Story of Richmond’s 13th premiership, has lifted the lid on the big man's impact on the playing group while sequestered at the KDV Elite Sports Academy from July until the premiership triumph in October, about a kilometre down the road from Metricon Stadium.
Maric swung into action in the immediate aftermath of Sydney Stack and Callum Coleman-Jones' hub breach, when the pair went out to Surfers Paradise and were involved in an altercation near a strip club at around 3:30am.
"Under COVID protocols Stack and Coleman-Jones had to be isolated immediately, and they were unable to leave their rooms, so Richmond ensured they had rooms directly next to one another, and whatever they needed would be delivered," Marshall wrote.
"Ivan Maric, the club's wellbeing manager and ruck coach, took it upon himself to go one step further in his support – he found a chair, carried it into the hallway outside their rooms, and sat down, alternating with other football staff in shifts.
"The players' doors could be open a fraction, and there the support staff remained. Shane McCurry (Richmond's leadership facilitator) recalls: 'They just camped outside their rooms, in the corridor, just in case they needed something, or someone to talk to. There was definitely no shortage of support'."
It was just one example of Maric's quiet support for the Tigers players.
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Marshall recounts a 'Fight Club' boxing competition, Jason Castagna painting wall art, a Tour de France-inspired peloton, hundreds of games of Monopoly Deal, and BML Fishing Tours Company (Nathan Broad, Kamdyn McIntosh and Kane Lambert's fishing crew), but the former ruckman went one step further.
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"Ivan Maric, a talismanic figure in the Richmond culture, instituted an open-door policy in his room, enticing all and any in there with snacks," Marshall wrote.
"He would go to the nearby Aldi supermarket with David Astbury and others and come back with an array of small goods and pickles and red wine. Someone even made a sign for above his door that read: 'The Gherkin Lounge'.
"Soon enough, Kamdyn McIntosh built a fly-screen door for the makeshift 'lounge', complete with a faux gold chain to act as the 'nightclub's' velvet rope. They found a licensing sign, and an occupancy sign, and red carpet for the entrance.
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"'Players, coaches and staff would stop in to say g'day', says McCurry. 'Some who were missing home would come in and just lie on the bed, just to be supported by Ivan who is the absolute epitome of a Richmond Man.
"'Then it evolved. I don't think Ivvy knew what it would become when it started out, but it just became this alternative magical meeting place'."
The Hard Way: The Story of Richmond’s 13th premiership, published by Hardie and Grant and written by Konrad Marshall, is available in bookshops. RRP $24.99