Re­vamp be­hind Tiger re­vival

Mercury (Hobart) - - SPORT - JAY CLARK

RICH­MOND com­mis­sioned a spe­cial re­port from its re­cruit­ing staff last sum­mer to help re­frame a game plan around its play­ers’ strengths.

In a move that helped kick­start the Tigers’ re­mark­able resur­gence last De­cem­ber, each of the club’s re­cruiters was asked to pro­vide a full anal­y­sis on each player’s best at­tributes and de­vel­op­men­tal scope when they were drafted.

Rich­mond had as­sem­bled a new as­sis­tant coach­ing staff late last year, and af­ter a poor 2016 sea­son, wanted to strip back its style of play to a bat­tle plan more suited to its play­ers’ nat­u­ral strengths.

Tal­ent chief Dan Richard­son, list man­ager Blair Hart­ley and na­tional re­cruit­ing man­ager Matthew Clarke led the anal­y­sis, fea­tur­ing player-by­player run downs from full­time re­cruiter Luke Wil­liams, pro-scout Nick Austin and part-time scouts Richard Tay­lor and Fran­cis Jack­son.

The re­port was de­liv­ered to the coach­ing staff and then pre­sented to the play­ers in­di­vid­u­ally at the start of sum­mer as se­nior coach Damien Hard­wick laid key foun­da­tions for a shot at premier­ship glory this sea­son.

The feed­back helped form the im­pe­tus to be­come one of the best for­ward pres­sure and tack­ling teams in the AFL, around new­com­ers Dan But­ler, Ja­son Castagna and Daniel Ri­oli, as well as de­liv­er­ing more di­rect and sim­pli­fied ball movement.

Rich­mond has risen from 18th (last year) to 4th (this year) for tack­les and 13th to 4th for over­all pres­sure, ac­cord­ing to Cham­pion Data.

The re­cruit­ing re­port also helped trig­ger a num­ber of key po­si­tional moves that saw a hand­ful of play­ers re­sume roles from ear­lier in their AFL or ju­nior ca­reers, help­ing go back to ba­sics and har­ness some of their orig­i­nal play­ing traits.

They in­cluded shift­ing Bran­don El­lis from a wing back to a de­fen­sive run­ning po­si­tion where he starred as a ju­nior and Nick Vlas­tuin from mid­field to half-back to help shore up one of the best back­line units in the league.

Brown­low Medal favourite Dustin Martin also ditched the free-wheel­ing in de­fence to a more dam­ag­ing role for­ward of cen­tre, while skip­per Trent Cotchin was in­structed to be­come more im­pact­ful and ag­gres­sive on­ball.

Spear­head Jack Riewoldt re­sumed a more nat­u­ral full­for­ward role, in­stead of the con­stant roam­ing up the ground from pre­vi­ous sea­sons.

In­ter­nally, the re­cruiter anal­y­sis was hailed as a suc­cess­ful col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween sec­tions of the foot­ball depart­ment af­ter a sear­ing ex­am­i­na­tion of it at the end of last year in con­sul­ta­tion with Ernst and Young.

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