WHAT do you do when an entire starting midfield is injured?

Throw the magnets around, bring in a few fresh faces and back in the system to work.

Over its successful run, Richmond has often hit a period where playing stocks are low, but it's rarely been as concentrated in one area as the current situation, with Dion Prestia, Trent Cotchin, Shane Edwards, Shai Bolton and Kane Lambert all injured.

Against GWS on Saturday night, that injury crisis led to an unlikely starting centre-bounce trio of Dustin Martin, Liam Baker and third-gamer Riley Collier-Dawkins.

After a few games as sub, Patrick Naish (five matches prior to round nine) was given a full run on the wing and Hugo Ralphsmith made his debut across half-forward.

Richmond's centre bounce attendances




Toby Nankervis (ruck)



Dustin Martin



Shane Edwards



Shai Bolton



Marlion Pickett (mid and ruck)



Jack Graham



Riley Collier-Dawkins



Liam Baker



Noah Balta (ruck)



Jake Aarts



Nick Vlastuin



Fans have been eager for Collier-Dawkins – the club's first pick in the 2018 NAB AFL Draft – to make his long-awaited debut, and he starred in his third game at the top level with 18 disposals, four clearances, seven tackles and two goals.

"Last year was challenging for everyone in lots of different ways, and Riley was certainly in that, not getting his opportunity last year in a unique environment," Richmond midfield coach Sam Lonergan told afl.com.au.

"I was lucky enough to work really closely with him over that period of time. He's a great young man who's always willing to learn and develop, not only as a footballer but as a person as well.

"He did that in the off-season, he's lost about 5.5kg throughout the pre-season this year and worked really hard on his endurance and capacity to cover the ground. He's seen great rewards for it now in the impact he's having in games."

At half-time against the Giants, Richmond was down by 22 in the contested possession count and GWS shot out to a 28-point lead early in the third.

But the Tigers remedied the issues that had plagued them in the middle and ended up winning by four points in a Marvel Stadium thriller.

03:26 Mins
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Last two mins: Dusty leads the way again as Tigers overrun Giants

Enjoy the thrilling final moments between the Tigers and Giants at Marvel Stadium

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"It was a fun time, half-time," Lonergan said with a rueful laugh.

"To be honest, we just backed them in. We backed them in in what they've trained and reinforced the messages that allow them to bring their strengths to the table.

"It was a tough first half of footy, and we had a lot of guys in there who hadn't operated as a unit before, so they just needed a bit of time to understand what it feels like to play with each other."

While Lonergan said star rebound defender Vlastuin's presence in the middle will be on a case-by-case basis in the future, he lauded the versatile 23-year-old Baker, who had a career-high 33 touches against the Giants.

Richmond's Liam Baker marks against GWS in round nine, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

"He's played in every area of the field this season. He's certainly spent midfield time as a junior, but in the last couple of years he's spent time down back combined with some wing time," Lonergan said.

"We know that Liam is a possession-game player, so he'll always win his fair share of contested ball wherever he is on the ground. We needed to find some guys who could fill the void and he was outstanding.

"He just filled the role like he'd been playing it for years, he's clean at ground level, he's competitive, he understands system, and you'd expect that from an experienced and senior player."