Next year’s hope – 2016 Richmond list assessment

The season’s over.

Or at least it is for Richmond fans.

Or let’s be honest, it’s done for everyone else too except for Hawthorn fans, because we may as well give them the Cup now (although I’m more than happy to be proven wrong; I’m hoping I’m jinxing them right now).

Finals hopes have slipped from a fourth(!) consecutive year, to slim, to mathematical, to none. And because I barrack for Richmond, my un-squashable hope immediately transfers to next year. Because we only need a few changes, right? A bit of confidence? The ability to tackle? That’s all we need. Surely. The Tigers have only won two finals in my 23 years on the planet – and one of them was when I was two. We’re so overdue for a finals win the library has blocked our card from borrowing until we pay up. Or offer a few players up to the footy gods.

So here it goes. The 2016 Richmond list assessment, done two-thirds of the way through the season. In the tradition of the best footy journalists, I’ve made the big calls ridiculously early in order to provoke discussion. So comment away!

Best 22:

B: Vlastuin, Astbury, Grimes

HB: Houli, Rance, Yarran (fingers crossed)

C: Grigg, Edwards, Menadue

HF: Deledio, Griffiths, Lennon

F: Rioli, Riewoldt, McBean

Foll: Hampson, Miles, Cotchin

I/C: McIntosh, Lambert, C Ellis, Prestia (probably wishful thinking/another recruit or draftee)

While this is not a Hawthorn/Sydney-standard team, it’s not a disaster. There’s hope there. Only issue is how many of them are playing this year, and how woeful we’ve been despite that.

Depth/development players:

Every club needs them. Often unglamorous, but essential if you have an injury year from hell like the Queensland teams.

Short, Castagna, Markov, Drummond – have shown good signs, need more time

Batchelor, Broad, C Moore, Hunt – in case of emergency

Soldo, Chol – the definition of development players

Butler – yet to debut, has had injuries, needs another year

We thank them for their service to the club, and wish them well in their future endeavours:

Chaplin, Morris, Maric – heart and soul players, but the time has come

Elton, Vickery – could be useful trades (please no Ty-bashing. I met him earlier this year at his restaurant when shadowing a journalist interviewing him. He’s smart, articulate and friendly enough to still remember the intern’s name at the end of the night, give her free pizza, and laugh when she starts scoffing her face. I can never be mad at Ty again, but the time might have come to “mutually part ways”)

B Ellis – a bit left-field. “Everyone” says we need to trade one of the big five. But we can’t. We’d be on our knees. Ellis would be great for a team close to a flag and in need of a hard runner. Because he can definitely run. Not the most accountable/damaging, but very good at picking up 25-odd disposals.

A Moore, Townsend, Marcon – possibly not AFL-standard (but who am I to say?)

About Sarah Black

I'm a freelance sports journalist, primarily covering AFLW for AFL Media, but I have a passion for all sports. (Except rugby. Someone needs to explain the point of that game to me.) Having never grown past 5 foot tall, I've given up my dream of being the first professional dual netball/football player and I'm doing the next best thing - writing about it.


  1. The Wrap says

    I’ll go along with that list analysis Sarah. But I’d be reluctant to let B. Ellis go. As you said, he’s tireless, and has the knack of popping up in the play in the most unexpected places. Ty’s the enigma. Some days he’s an Old Gold chocolate, other days he’s a boiled lolly. Doesn’t seem to be able to read the play, and spends a lot of half-hearted time chasing jumpers. Maybe he just doesn’t have the mental & physical acceleration to swap from attack to defence.

    I myself personally feel we should be looking at the coaching panel. That’s the list that needs the close scrutiny. And I’m talking about going right back to the VFL side. Brendan Bolton turned the Worst List in The Competition into a Danger Game side in his inaugural season. At both Carlton and as a senior coach.

    BTW, what about Liam McBean? He was going to be the new forward pivot.

  2. I like Conca and Lloyd. Would leave out Houli – gets the ball a lot but makes too many turnovers and outright blunders. He could have saved the Collingwood game with a genuine smother on Grundy’s kick in the goalsquare. Taylor Hunt should be on the thanks but no thanks list. Saw Lennon last year; looks the goods if he can get fit. Menadue has been impressive. B. Ellis also makes blunders so need to weigh up whether his positives outweigh the negatives. Whole team needs to play with more urgency. I reckon Yarran will be good for the Tiges if he gets out there.

  3. Just noticed that Martin is not in that 22!

  4. Good point NoelMac. I missed it too. maybe it was an auto correct and Marin is supposed to be where McBean’s name appears.

    Another one I missed was Conca. He’s almost down to Tiger Tambling status in my book. For a first round draft pick he’s produced sweet FA. Sam Lloyd’s a proven match winner, on a number of occasions. Love his work.

    And while I’ve got you there Sarah – ‘While this is not a Hawthorn/Sydney-standard team’ ? So how come we play both of them so well? Better than anyone else in The Competition, in fact.

  5. The glazer. says

    Hmmm. Might have thought Martin was 1st pick. Conca needs a decent run without injury before judgement passed.

  6. The Wrap says

    What is it as Tigerland? They can’t keep anyone consistently on the paddock. Grimes & Astbury – both better than handy – always seem to be in the stands helping the WAGS with the stats. Lennon’s also stuck in the medical room. Yarran should be helping the WAGS too, but it’s more likely he’s helping police with their enquiries. Now you tell me Conca can’t get a decent run at it because of injuries. If he’s that injury prone, let Medicare take care of him. He’s been at Punt Road long enough to build a nest egg. We owe him nothing.

  7. Sarah Black says

    Dusty was definitely an accident, he’s first picked every time! I had divided the list into rough positions and must have accidentally overlooked him between the forwards and the mids. I’m not sure how to edit the post, but put Dusty in where McBean is, McBean to the bench, Lambert to the twos.

    Didn’t realise I’d missed Lloyd and Conca either! Serves me right for writing this in a rush on the train on the way home from work. I will re-post the new 22 in a new comment. Lloyd has been very impressive this year, a genuine match-winner. I’ve got a big soft spot for Conca and the enthusiasm he brings, but I think Short and Castagna will have him covered in the next few years. Lloyd into fwd line, Lennon to bench, Lambert and Conca to twos to get his body right.

    The Wrap – As I said, Ellis is a left-field choice. He needs to lift and be more damaging to take the step from good to great. Hopefully he can, but if he doesn’t, we need to look to the future and draft picks. Vickery is the epitome of Richmond – his best is outstanding, his worst, when he doesn’t chase, lead or crash packs, woeful.
    McBean has been ok in his three games, and very good at VFL in the past few years (has stagnated a bit this year). He’s only 21, we need to play him to see if he can make the step up.

    In terms of Hawthorn/Sydney – yes, we can play them and beat them (and haven’t I loved it!). But we don’t have their depth. Our top five is excellent, but the big question is, who is player number 6? Edwards? Lloyd? Miles?

    Grimes is serially underrated, and Astbury has improved with every consecutive game he’s played.

    Noelmc – See Martin, Lloyd and Conca above. I put Houli in because I think we’ve really missed his run off halfback this year. In the long run, Short/Castagna/Markov will take his spot, but they’re not ready yet. Taylor Hunt is there as insurance for Yarran – if Yarran’s 100%, then yes, I agree, time to part ways. I love Menadue, and if Lennon can get his body right and improve his defensive game, he could be very good.

  8. Sarah Black says


    B: Vlastuin, Astbury, Grimes
    HB: Houli, Rance, Yarran (fingers crossed)
    C: Grigg, Edwards, Menadue
    HF: Deledio, Griffiths, Martin
    F: Rioli, Riewoldt, Lloyd
    Foll: Hampson, Miles, Cotchin
    I/C: McIntosh, McBean, Lennon, C Ellis

    Lambert and Conca – in case of emergencies

  9. Sarah, as a Port Adelaide supporter, I never felt inclined to call T. Chaplin a “heart and soul player”. More like a big lump who avoids the hard stuff and cannot kick. And Wrap, “I myself personally” must be Tautology of the Year!

  10. Sarah, we were 5-10 at this stage in 2014. Gold Coast were in similar free-fall to NOrth this year. We were playing worse then than we did for 3 quarters against Port and most of the game against the dogs. Granted, we had a % of 98, not 86 (which is hard to explain.)

    Not that I am suggesting we will or should make the 8. Just saying stranger things have happened…

    As for the list – Houli out. Markov in. Could be a gem.

    McIntosh out, don’t rate him. Slower version of B Ellis. Rioli in.

    Agree with the B ellis trade but at least he played with gusto last week. Thumped into some tackles, finally. Good work

    Castagna in! Better than Townsend.

    Conca on the bench. I like him. Does some good things every game, now taht he is fir. Judge him by Rd 11 next year if he stays fit.

    Vlastuin into the midfield more often.

    Griffiths to offer the get-out mark on the wing more often. (But Hampson took a couple of crackers last week, he really may be a late blooming beauty if he keeps this up.)

    I reckon that’s a top 4 team next year. would like a wildcard up forward (A S Johnson type), and with 3 or 4 potential second rounders traded out, surely we can bundle to the inetrstate clubs (who need points for academy picks) and purloin someone? An S Motlop. Or maybe play Yarran up front and find another Suckiling type, hard at the contest but with a thumping boot?

    But game plan and tactical coaching personnel needing serious reboot, as ohers have said.

  11. The Wrap says

    Thanks Bucko. I wasn’t sure anyone would pick it up. So you’re from Adelaide? Whose got the pub over there now?

    I must be missing something. I just can’t rate Conca. Too many 50m penalties for one thing. Check it out. And too many turnovers. Check that out too. True, Dusty doesn’t always look to where he’s kicking, and he can be tagged out of a game, but who can’t? But he runs and he delivers. We’re talking about a #1 draft pick here (Conca)

    The coaching staff’s job is to bring the best out in the players. That’s clearly not happening. My thinking is that we’re looking at the wrong list. I’ve seen these lads play some cracking Football when they’ve believed in themselves.

  12. Rulebook says

    Geez folks some reality this is no quick fix it is a very average list with a fair bit of pain ahead
    Out Houli,Hunt,Morris,Vickery,,Moore,Townsend,,Maric,Chaplin( won’t waste a decent sledge)
    Plus try and trade something which will get you something back of value

  13. Rulebook says

    Wrap (and others) granted development coaching is a huge problem virtually every younger tiger has stagnated or gone backwards

  14. Wrap. “Who’s”. And the answer? Ricciuto.

  15. Conca hasn’t justified pick 6 yet but he is better than about half of the list. And could get lots better. Just an opinion…

  16. Every young Tiger has gone back, eh Rulebook? I reckon there’s your answer Tigers. And that’s Chocko’s department. He left Port in acronym; maybe he has a used by date. But I feel he’s not on his pat malone

    I stand corrected PW.

  17. Would keep Houli, Rioli shows good signs but needs to develop physically, we don’t miss Conca and who would have thought twelve months ago we’d be OK with Hampson in the ruck in favour of Ty and Ivan.

    Yarran better repay the selection, very nervous about him delivering.

    Morris’s decline is sad, as are others


  18. Sarah Black says

    Well, I’m glad I provoked some discussion! People are never short of an opinion on the Tiges.

    I put Chaplin in with Morris and Maric because I believe he has given a lot to the club, as have the other two. While he may not be a “heart and soul” player, he was incredibly important for Alex Rance’s development. He came in at the end of 2012, and we made finals in 2013 – I reckon some of that was due to the fact Rance no longer had to defend six forwards every week, and Chaplin, as an experienced player, added a lot of stability. Yeah he’s made a bucketload of mistakes over the years, but I’ll take them if they’re the downside to Rance’s development as one of the best defenders in the league (who would have thought that would be the case five years ago?)

    Peter – I admire your optimism re our position on the ladder, but I don’t want to buy into it – the hope is too painful! I don’t mind McIntosh. Remember he’s only had one year at AFL level, give him another before making a final judgement. I also have a definite soft spot for Conca, I love the enthusiasm and run he brings to the team, but his disposal isn’t up to it. Whether continuity in his body will remedy that, time will tell. Love Markov, Castagna etc. Hammer’s in career-best form (odd state of affairs!) Vlastuin in the middle is great, but who do we put in the backline instead? Leaves a big hole. Can’t agree it’s a top four team though, the depth just isn’t there (yet).

    Game plan isn’t my strong suit, but surely questions have to be asked following the Dogs game last week. Where was that style all year? Why wasn’t it implemented from round 1? The more they play that way, the greater their confidence in themselves, which is obviously a key area for this group of players.

    Rulebook – Houli gives good run off the backline, which we’ve clearly been missing since he broke his wrist, and Hunt is there purely as insurance for Yarran. If the club reckons Yarran’s right, could be the end of Hunt. Every other player you’ve listed, I had already suggested.

    Sean – If every other player had the same heart and determination as Steve Morris, we’d be a totally different side. Definitely not the most talented of players, but I remember reading something in an article along the lines of “Steve Morris would literally die on the MCG if it meant Richmond would win a final”, which pretty much sums it up!

    I don’t know about Chocko’s work with the other players, but his single greatest achievement at Richmond is Dustin Martin. Enough said.

  19. Stainless says

    Labelling individual players is dangerous because you’re inevitably influenced by recent performances (e.g. Conca last week versus Conca in our win over Hawthorn 12 months ago are chalk and cheese. Which is the real one? Ditto Maric 2016 versus Maric 2013-15). I’ve certainly been guilty of writing players off only to see them transformed by new coaches, new playing styles etc. and I cannot think of a Premiership side that hasn’t had at least a few average starters. I’ll concede that there are a few at Richmond that the game has either passed by or who just aren’t up to it, but I’m not in the “rebuild” camp by any means.

    I keep coming back to the plain simple truth that the best teams are the ones with the most A-grade players. Hawthorn, Sydney and the like have at least half a dozen genuine stars each, all of whom have performed on the big stage over and over again. At the moment, Richmond has the best defender in the league (yes, THE best, bar none – Rulebook!), an emerging star in Martin, a couple of other near A-grade midfielders and a very good, versatile forward. None have played in a winning final. That’s about it. We need 3-4 more – at least.

    I could get more picky and look at obvious gaps in our lineup. A creative athletic young ruckman would be nice. A really hungry, talented small forward has been a bit of a weakness for…oh, about 33 years since that No.29 bloke gave it away. Conversely, the psychological value of a small defender who could shut down the Cyrils and the Eddies would be incalculable. But ultimately, it’s about top-line players in any position and plenty of them. How to get them? Forget beep tests and psychometric assessments. The defining benchmark is the ability to effectively dispose of the ball by hand and (especially) by foot under pressure. I’m not sure why this is such a hard thing to identify in recruiting.

  20. Rulebook says

    Stainless it is the gap between the top players and the rest is bigger than any other club and Wrap unfortunately yes that is the only conclusion re Chocko and Stainless Rance best attacking defender Talia in front of him as a negating defender and possibly others as well
    If tiger supporters are honest go thru the above side and how many after the top 5 would get a game at the top sides in the comp not many

  21. Corey Ellis will be a jet. The next Leon Cameron

    THunt is Tivendale with worser hair

  22. in terms of us being “top 4”, it’s based on further improvement of our kids and a removal of less good players. and normal additions of talent after trading, on top of Yarran coming back

    we were easily good enough to be top 4 last year. no reason we can’t be next… along with about 7 other teams. that’s why the cohesion and game plan and leadership are so important.

  23. Yeah!

    in terms of us being “top 4”, it’s based on further improvement of our kids and a removal of less good players. and normal additions of talent after trading, on top of Yarran coming back

    we were easily good enough to be top 4 last year. no reason we can’t be next… along with about 7 other teams. that’s why the cohesion and game plan and leadership are so important.

  24. Sarah Black says

    Bloody hell Peter, how did you remember this article?!?
    Well done on the top four pick, I must admit I didn’t have your faith.

    I’m simultaenously cringing and happy with my predictions – but seriously, who would have thought Townsend would kick 11 in two weeks?
    Happy I backed Butler, McIntosh, Menadue and Broad. I also floated trading Ty back in July, which was definitely the right move!

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