Many pundits predicted the Tigers would not only return to the finals this year, but leap into the top four and regain the ominous form that saw the club claim premierships in 2017, 2019 and 2020.
But the Tigers sit outside the top eight after three rounds with a 1-2 record after conceding over 100 points in their two losses to Carlton and St Kilda where they also gave up sizeable leads late in the game.
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Speaking on Fox Footy’s On The Couch, triple premiership Lion Jonathan Brown said the Tigers of 2022 had similar traits to the Lions side he was part of in the aftermath of their trio of flags.
Brown, who last month predicted the Tigers would return to the top eight considering they’d be coming off a full and relatively healthy pre-season, pinpointed the array of injuries, as well as the uncertainty around Dustin Martin’s future and the sense veteran Trent Cotchin isn’t influencing games as much now, as reasons behind Richmond’s slow start.
But Brown said a lack of “hunger” could be the biggest factor behind a possible Richmond downfall.
“I’ve lived it in 2005 and I’m concerned for the Tigers,” Brown told On The Couch.
“I was a younger player – because at the time you’d go ‘no this is BS, Browny’s talking out of his backside’ – but when I look back 20 years ago, you were just a bit off with your hunger.
“Can you scrap and fight and hang in there when you know your best is past you? I look back 20 years later and go ‘you know what? That happened to us.”
St Kilda champion Nick Riewoldt detailed what a lack of hunger might look like among the Richmond playing group.
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“How that manifests, it’s the little things that just add up, like: ‘Do I jump in the ice bath? Do I eat that or do I stay disciplined?’ It’s all the little things that when you come to game day when you haven’t quite been as disciplined in your Monday to Friday preparation, the edge comes off and it happens across 22 players,” Riewoldt told On The Couch.
“Players are human … We’ve lived it.
“Yours (Brown’s experience) was different with the full belly. Ours (at St Kilda after losing Grand Finals in 2009 and 2010) was: ‘Gee can we put ourselves out there and go through the heartbreak again?’ It happens in different ways, but it’s equally real.”
Lyon added: “Damien Hardwick would wail at this discussion – as he should … but I get that (lack of hunger discussion). Absolutely what you’re saying makes sense.”
The Tigers couldn’t stop Carlton from piling on the goals during the final quarter of their Round 1 clash. Then they were “absolutely smashed – the likes we haven’t seen from this group before”, according to Riewoldt, by St Kilda in the second half on Sunday. Alarmingly, the Saints kicked 10 goals from their last 21 inside 50s of Sunday’s match – a feat that “doesn’t happen against the Richmond side we’ve come to know and appreciate”, according to Lyon.
Speaking on Channel 9’s Footy Classified, Port Adelaide premiership player Kane Cornes said the Tigers were a “proud group”, but there were signs it could get ugly for them this season.
“I reckon they‘re in danger of completely falling apart this year,” Cornes told Footy Classified.
“(Dylan) Grimes is injured again with a hammy – they are a couple of key players away from things capitulating.”
Asked if he was putting a line through Richmond’s dynasty, Riewoldt said: “It’s about that time.
“They’ve had a great system, but they’ve also had some incredible personnel that have been able to wrap their arms around the system at the right time.”