RICHMOND is confident its stars will continue to ignore higher pay packets elsewhere as the Tigers look to re-sign a bunch of flag stars and free agents to new deals this year.
The Tigers have lost only two premiership players to rival clubs since the end of 2017 – Dan Butler (St Kilda) and Brandon Ellis (Gold Coast) – but this year face perhaps their toughest test with six premiership players qualifying for free agency in a year when the salary cap has been slashed by more than $1 million.
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Jack Riewoldt, David Astbury, Nick Vlastuin, Shane Edwards, Bachar Houli and Kamdyn McIntosh are all out of contract at the end of this season as free agents, while emerging stars Noah Balta and Shai Bolton are also due new deals that are likely to be much increased after their significant roles in last year's flag.
The Tigers this week signed triple premiership pair Dylan Grimes and Dion Prestia to new contracts, but coach Damien Hardwick admitted success makes it harder to keep the group together.
"That's the challenge isn't it. They're incredible players for us and (Richmond list manager) Blair (Hartley) and his list management team do a very, very good job at making sure our players do stay together," Hardwick told AFL.com.au.
"They play for less. There's no doubt about it. They could go to other clubs and get a hell of a lot more money. But they love the environment they've created. It's important to a period of sustained success because if you lose players like David Astbury, Nick Vlastuin and Jack Riewoldt, your club is lesser because of it.
"Not only from an on-field perspective, but also an off-field perspective. They're wonderful leaders on and off the field."
The squeeze on the salary cap for clubs this year saw the Tigers recently approach their players to take a five per cent pay cut across the board – which is higher than the standard 3.5 per cent cut as applied by some clubs under the League's payment structure for players.
Hardwick said highly rated list manager Hartley had discussed the options with the players before they supported the collective approach to the cuts.
"He does a wonderful job of preparing the players and saying 'These are the options'. Then it's really up for them to decide," he said.
"It's a collective decision and once again Blair is a very good leader at allowing those guys to make an informed decision because it's their money and it's up to them whether they want to keep the group together. It was a collective across the board agreement."