Published on March 26, 2017 6:17 am

Jake Aarts

Richmond season preview recently chatted to Richmond’s VFL senior coach Craig McRae about what could lie in store for the club on the field in 2017.



2016 FINISH: 9th (9-9)

2016 BEST AND FAIREST: 1. Adam Marcon / 2. Sam Darley / 3. Jason Castagna

2016 TEAM OF THE YEAR: Sam Darley

2017 INS & OUTS:
– In: Hugh Beasley (Brisbane AFL) / Danko Bzenic / Jayden Cass (Frankston) / Billy Coates / Brenton Credlin (Frankston YCW) / Alex Harnett / Shaun Mannagh (North Albury, NSW) / Zak McCubbin / Lachlan McKenzie (St Kevin’s) / Max O’Sullivan / Brandon Wood (Frankston)
– Out (selected): Luke Conca / Tom Couch (North Launceston) / Jarred Ellis / Gerard Gleeson / Andrew McQualter / Nick Mellington (Coburg) / Kelvin Williams



Tom Couch: “Tom got a great opportunity to coach North Launceston down in Tasmania so we wish him well and we’re sure he’s going to enjoy doing that. He’ll be missed. In the end he had an outstanding season for us last year even though he only played 10 or 11 games due to injury and his work.”

Nick Mellington: “Nick’s certainly someone we would have liked to keep on our list. He’s got great upside and he’s ambitious to play AFL footy, so he sees Coburg as an avenue for that to happen. He’s a very versatile player and I think he’s got great qualities that we’ll certainly miss.”



Hugh Beasley: “We signed Hugh from Brisbane where he was on the rookie list and played six AFL games (from 2015-16). He’s a key defender who has the capability to play on the opposition’s big forwards. He’s a great character, has great leadership qualities and I think he’s going to be really important for us.”

Brandon Wood: “We targeted an inside midfielder with Nick Mellington leaving the club and fortunately we got Brandon. He’s an outstanding clearance player and brings good VFL experience from Box Hill and then at Frankston.”

Jayden Cass: “Jayden has come on board from Frankston. He’s currently one of a number of younger players that will go through the forward line with the likes of Jake Aarts and Tom Silvestro, but our AFL list is also full of young forwards who are aspiring to be regular AFL players.”



“I think Jacob Ballard’s had an outstanding pre-season. I think he really got himself going at the back-end of last year and he looks like he’s come back above that level this year. He’s an ex-Fremantle rookie-list player with great endurance and he’s a really hard trainer who’s testing everyone out and telling everyone to be better. He’s got such a big, strong presence at 194cm – that prototype AFL midfielder’s size these days. He’s one that I think has set himself for a good season.

“Also, our captain Sam Darley’s a quality player off half back and Jake Aarts has had an amazing pre-season. He’s a small forward who’s played over 50 VFL games now, but I think he’s got the capability to play in the midfield. Brandon Wood is an obvious one because he’s got so much VFL experience.”



Shaun Mannagh: “Shaun played at North Albury last year. He’s really fit, a hard runner and committed to the cause. I think he’s going to play some games as a 23rd player this year.”

Brenton Credlin: “Brenton played at YCW in the Frankston league last year. He’s a third tall defender who has played in some AFL intra-club games and looked like he was capable of fitting in at that level.”

Jack Holden: “Jack is eligible as a 23rd player and looks really capable. He only played one game for us last year but has come back fitter and stronger.”

James Fletcher: “James played six games for us last year as a 23rd player. I think he’s got AFL traits.”



“We finished last season strongly – we won our last six games. From what I’ve seen, I think some momentum has built from that in individual players – they’re hungry and have come back wanting more of that. I think our strength will be in our ability to maintain or build on momentum from last year.

“I also think our VFL list seems a bit stronger than it was last year and our leadership amongst that group seems a bit stronger too, so hopefully that holds us in good stead.”



“Other than the individual growth in players, our pressure around the football was something we finished last year really strongly with. There have been some changes in philosophy, if you like, at AFL level and we’ll look to mirror those at VFL level, in relation to our pressure around the contests.”



“We’ve got a development coach at AFL level in Xavier Clarke, who’s just had three years as a senior coach at NT Thunder and experience as an AFL player at St Kilda (105 games from 2002-09) and Brisbane (one game from 2010-11). He comes on board as our VFL midfield coach. We’ve got Ben Waite – who has been a senior coach in the NEAFL – coming in as our stoppage coach, and we’ve moved Tom Hunter – an ex-Collingwood rookie-list player – from a midfield coaching role into the role as our forwards coach. Leigh Clarke was our previous forwards coach and he’s got the head coaching job at (the TAC Cup’s) Oakleigh Chargers. Ryan Ferguson remains our back line coach and Marc Sophoulis is our director of coaching.”

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