HARDWICK'S THREE WISHES ANSWERED
HUNDREDS of long-suffering Richmond fans got out of bed early yesterday in the hope of seeing three things from the Tigers’ intra-club match at Punt Rd Oval.
Firstly, they hoped to see strong performances from new recruits Josh Caddy, Dion Prestia and Toby Nankervis.
Secondly, they wanted to see a more free-flowing and attacking game plan after the stagnant and frustrating play that plagued Richmond’s 2016 campaign.
And just 13 days out from the club’s first pre-season match against Adelaide, they were praying for no injuries. Tick. Tick. Tick. The 24-year-old Caddy, who was recruited from Geelong, was the standout from the 50 minutes of match play, finding plenty of the ball through the midfield and showing his class with a long goal from outside 50m on the boundary line.
In his first competitive hitout since having knee surgery in July, Prestia, 24, moved well and also won his fair share of the footy on managed match time.
Nankervis, 22, also performed strongly in the ruck, the former Sydney Swan having quickly become a favourite of coach Damien Hardwick and looking set to assume duties as the club’s No.1 ruckman this year.
Richmond midfielder Kane Lambert said the trio of recruits had all fitted in.
“To see Nanks and Prestia and Caddy as well out on the park and see what they’ve got to offer, we’re really excited about what they can bring to this footy club,” Lambert, 25, said. “(Nankervis has) been great. “You don’t want to be on the opposition side because he’ll go right through you, Toby. But that’s what we want.
“He brings aggression and I think he’s going to bring a touch of class as well.”
While the intra-club match was played with a less-congested, 16-a-side format, the ball moved quickly from end to end in a stark contrast to Richmond’s game last year.
Lambert said there had been some focus on moving the ball quicker over the off season.
“We’re always trying to change a few different things from last year but obviously the footy’s pretty hot out there, the boys want to get their hands on it,” Lambert said.
“So it probably was a bit too offensive but we’ll work on that throughout the year.”
A slimmed-down Nick Vlastuin played the match in the midfield as he prepares for a shift out of defence, while Jack Riewoldt was lively in the forward line.
Collingwood v Essendon
Etihad Stadium, 7.40pm
Hawthorn v Geelong
GWS Giants v West Coast
W.Bulldogs v Melbourne
Whitten Oval, 4.40pm
Sydney v North Melbourne
Coffs Harbour, 2.05pm
Gold Coast v Brisbane Lions
Trent Cotchin (top) is wrapped up in a Tyson Stengle tackle in Richmond’s intra-club practice match at Punt Road Oval yesterday; Dion Prestia earns a drink (inset) and Josh Caddy prepares to pass. Pictures: MARK DADSWELL