Season and player review: Richmond (Part 2)

Jill and Sophie Fitzsimons have given each Richmond senior mens player a review for season 2020, starting today from David Astbury (Number 12) to Toby Nankervis (Number 25) leading up to the finals.



12. Dave Astbury




It took a while for Dave to make the  famous number twelve his own after cruel injuries in the early years of his career, just like our other defensive gun, Dylan Grimes. Richmond’s belief in him paid off though and it was great to see him back against Adelaide last week taking a pack of intercept marks when others were questioning if Balta’s growth meant there was no room for Dave in the team. Turns out there is.


I’ve always felt connected to Dave, especially when I was right behind him in the eight items or less express lane at Northcote Coles. He was buying sweet potatoes and other vegies and had a calico bag. He was wearing an non-descript tracky and no-name white runners just to show that he was an everyday guy with a great diet and sustainable shopping practices.



13. Jack Higgins




There’s so much to love about Jack Higgins but no one is talking him up in terms of the finals which is so sad given he missed out last year having had  emergency brain surgery twice. On top of that, having survived the surgeries, he had to keep his dignity when a whole lot of people were suggesting a whole lot of things about his girlfriend and one of his teammates. Talk about having to bear a ‘sea of troubles’. I suffer from migraines but can only imagine the headaches he endured prior to his diagnosis and surgery. I feel shocking for days after a migraine which is small beer compared to his remarkable return to the elite level. What a fighter. He trained with the running coach Bohdan Babijczuk when he was thirteen to improve his chances of being drafted and I have no doubt that unlike Stack and CCJ, who lost the respect of many in one fell swoop by squandering their precious chance, Jack has kept working hard, smiling and supporting others. As Coolidge said: ‘Nothing can take the place of persistence…Press on!’



14 Bachar Houli




We immediately looked a better team with Houli back in Round 13 against Essendon in Darwin. We missed him when he was at home with his family but I totally get it. I had three girls under two and three months at one stage and needed all hands on deck to survive.


One of my other girls, Rachel, has been wearing a face mask with Bachar Houli on it. She’s not as crazy about the Tigers as us but is a Tiger nonetheless and we’ve appreciated her efforts to promote some Tiger spirit within our 5km radius.


I have no doubt that Bachar was a calm figure in the hub when things seemed to be hitting the fan on a weekly basis. Family and faith keep him grounded. My old boss, Mark, was big on Kipling’s advice, ‘If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs’ and this would have been Bachar to a tee when things seemed to be unravelling in paradise.



15. Jayden Short




Before the players went into the hub, I was walking up to the local shops to buy something and I saw Jayden Short in the local chicken shop in Station St. The chips there are really good, so I’m sure they kept him very satisfied.


We joke that Jayden Short looks like my little cousin, Charlie, so when Short got injured last year it felt like Charlie had been put out of the team for a period of time. Jayden Short’s had a great season, and we feel that he has really cemented his place into the team post-injury.



17. Daniel Rioli




If there’s one player from Richmond that a teenage girl could name it would have to be Rioli. Because of  his build up on social media and good looks, pretty much all of my friends know all about him.


I really admire Rioli for his off the ball impact. He’s very good at running in between the opposition players, which I feel he doesn’t get enough credit for.


His culture really shines through as well, which is something that brings a great feel of diversity around the club.



19. Tom Lynch




After the abomination of the 2018 prelim – something that is no longer spoken about in our house – Tom Lynch was seen as a symbol of hope in the eyes of Mum, my Grandpa and I. Standing at 199 centimetres tall, Tom looked to be the missing piece to our forward line. Although Tom had only been a member of the club for what seemed like a minute to others, to us it felt like he’d been there since the beginning of the clubs 21st century victories.


He later proved this in the prelim against Geelong, launching the club to the soon to be victory of the 2019 premiership. It was Tom’s first finals series, yet he played as if it was second nature to him. He was the best on ground for the Tigers, and along with his 5 memorable goals, he provided a dominant target in the forward line with fellow superstar, Jack Riewoldt.



20. Ivan Soldo




We feel a real connection to Soldo, he lives near us and shops at what seems to be the hot spot for the Tigers and their groceries.


In saying this, the superfoods he’s picking up at the local Coles have really paid off. This was up until the heart breaking moment where we thought the injury list had already hit its peak, however we probably shouldn’t have gotten too comfortable in a year such as this one.


The family and I will be praying for Soldo’s speedy recovery, and are so excited for when he is fit to return to dominate in the ruck.



21 Noah Balta




Noah showed glimpses of all that he could become in 2019 but really came into his own in 2020. The word on the street was that he was the fastest player in town in 2019 and a ‘freak athlete’ but it was clear that it would take time for him to realise his talent. This was okay, we’d seen this before. Rance was very raw when he started and look what he became.


Noah was a revelation this year and boy did we need him to step up. Rance’s retirement sucked the wind out of us. It wasn’t just the shock of it given he’d busted a gut to get back in 2019, but its timing so late in the season. The silence that surrounded his retirement led everyone to suppose that something strange had occurred to prompt his decision but in the end we just had to move from bitterness and anger to embrace forlorn acceptance. As my friend Luke observed, Rance ‘marches to the beat of a different drum’.



22. Josh Caddy




Josh is a Marcellin College old boy. He attended the College before my time there as a teacher, but nonetheless, this connection gives him special status. Marcellin has produced a number of great players over the years, including Jason Castagna.


Caddy was in and out of the team this year due to injury and an inability to keep his cool against Port which led to a 100 metre penalty and changed the momentum of the game. Dimma was visibly upset by his behaviour, as were we all, and it was no surprise that he was dropped the next week to instil some discipline in him. Caddy wasn’t the only one to give away senseless frees this year, so I felt like it was a symbolic reminder to everyone about their fragility in the team should they not get the message about 50s, especially since they were often leading to opposition goals. Trent Cotchin came up with a weird suggestion that anyone who gave away a 50 metre penalty would have to change his baby son’s nappy as punishment. I know the Tigers are into laughter and family but I thought this was a little frivolous and impractical. Some sessions with the mindfulness coach, Emma or the mentor, Ben Crowe might prove more beneficial to guys losing their rag or a hard chat with Dimma or Balmey.


It’s hard to know if Caddy will play in our first final or not. He hurt his knee against Adelaide but kicked goals in crunch times. He’s a hard man that’s for sure. You can see this in Sound the Alarm, Q1: Inside the Coaches’ Box for the 2019 Grand Final which is currently playing on the AFL website. He is fierce and brings a real intensity to the game. A player not to be messed with.



23. Kane Lambert




Kane lives near us which is exciting. We’ve seen him out walking his dog and feel proud that he calls the inner city his home too. Kane was under the pump early in the season. Footy Classified forensically went through his stats and declared that his decreased efforts were indicative of a fading star. It was hard to watch because we knew Kane Lambert was made of tough stuff. He was overlooked in successive drafts but humbly took on board feedback each time about his deficiencies and worked to overcome them. He was drafted as a rookie in 2015 and is now a two-time premiership star.


Part of our return to form in Season 2020 certainly coincided with Lambert’s return to form and I agree with the Richmond Tiger Talk podcast guys  – now that Edwards is back – Lambert’s even better.



25. Toby Nankervis




Nank played like a king when he returned to face West Coast and when Soldo went down against Geelong his importance to the team was underlined even more. He brings real aggression to the game and like Brendon Gale did in his day, takes a great mark dropping back in defence. With question marks being asked about Chol’s ability to play in what some Richmond fans call  ‘beastmode’, Nankervis will play a crucial role in the finals. Thank god he’s back.





The Tigers Almanac 2019.
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