THE DEMONS of 2018 hold no fear for David Astbury and Richmond, with the Tigers aiming to bounce back from the shock preliminary final defeat last year.
The boys from Punt Road can rest easy this week, granted a weekend off after their strong qualifying final win over Brisbane.
David Astbury has been a shining light for the Tigers in the absence of Alex Rance. Picture: Getty Images
They will face the winner of Geelong and West Coast in next Friday night's preliminary final, a year after losing to Collingwood in the same fixture.
"I wouldn't imagine we'd do too much differently. We're in 2019 now, a different season and it'll be a different team. Everything changes so much in the AFL landscape, we'll just be really excited," Astbury said.
"[The loss] was addressed once it happened, but you try not to reflect on it too much, it happened in the past and it's not going to help you much going forward. We can't do anything about that result now, we can only prepare for the game that's upcoming.
"We're playing for the 2019 premiership and the 2018 one is gone. You want to go out there and win every game of footy, it doesn't really matter what the circumstance is.
"We won't be overly motivated, it could be detrimental to our preparation, and it's just a massive opportunity so it's exciting."
Richmond is just one of two sides still in the AFL finals race which still has a state league team in action (Brisbane's NEAFL side play in this weekend's Grand Final).
The Tigers' VFL side plays in a preliminary final against Port Melbourne on Saturday, causing a bit of a split in training.
On Wednesday, the players in contention to play VFL – including Dan Butler, Kamdyn McIntosh and Marlion Pickett – did not train with the rest of the senior side, with their run-through pushed to the evening with the remainder of the VFL side.
Sydney Stack (ankle) completed handball drills on the sidelines, along with Alex Rance (ACL) and Nathan Broad (light training load).
"It's not only support for us, but for us to have an opportunity to support them is really huge. The (VFL) result here against Essendon a couple of weeks ago was quite extraordinary and very uplifting," Astbury said.
Dustin Martin chats with assistant coach Adam Kingsley at training. Picture: Getty Images
"We're just excited nearly every player on our list has the opportunity to play football this time of year. The support's been huge from the boys, and we can't wait till Saturday to support them too."
Astbury said while his role hadn't changed this season without star defender Rance, he was impressed with the form shown by new All Australian teammates Dylan Grimes and Bachar Houli.
"The testament of a system is what happens when one of the most significant players goes out of the side, to see how it copes then," Astbury said.
FINALS PREDICTOR Who will win the 2019 premiership?
"True to form, 'Rancey' has done an amazing job in supporting us and he's been a big part of our 2019 campaign, even though he's only played one match of footy. Other guys have stepped up and we've seen development from a number of guys in the back half.
"I feel like those guys are improving with 'Rancey' in the side anyway, whether [his injury] was the catalyst for a big step forward for those guys, I'm not sure and we won't really know, but … the development and execution from those guys weekend to weekend has been unbelievable. It's a true sign of the character of the group we've got."