Brisbane Lions triple-premiership winner (now there is a phrase not often used of late) Justin Leppitsch, now an assistant coach with the Richmond Tigers, went on record saying that the Tigers’ preparations for the 2018 Toyota Premiership competition will not be impacted by the shortened pre-season campaign.
It is his opinion that the pressure of finals footy that saw the Tigers gel in 2017 will carry forward to the new season. His optimism is nor shared by the bookies, who rate Richmond Tigers no better than fourth or fifth in Premiership futures markets.
Of course, those same bookies have the Crows at the top again, so take the futures markets with a grain of salt and a grain of pepper.
The Tigers do seem to be forming up well for the upcoming season of the AFL. Their list is more or less intact and fit, with the possible exception of young forward Daniel Rioli, who hurt his ankle in the Grand Final and is doubtful to be on the ground for the Tigers’ Round 1 game against the Carlton Blues at MCG. As premiers, the Tigers get to launch the new season, but the league picked the Blues. Go figure.
Leppitsch was somewhat adamant in stating the case that the Tigers will not succumb to the same fate that found the 2016 premiers Western Bulldogs spiraling downward last season.
“If you ask the players, the shorter pre-season, they love it,” he told RSN.
“The experience of finals footy versus the extra month of pre-season, I think I’d take the month of finals footy. We don’t consider it an issue and we definitely won’t be using it as an excuse going into the season.”
Strong words, but it remains to be seen if the Tigers can establish the sort of dynasty the Hawthorn Hawks enjoyed a few years ago, when hawthorn came close to winning four consecutive flags.
The 2018 edition of the Tigers will debut with five short format AFLX exhibitions in Sydney, and then they move on to two JLT Community games against the Bombers and the Kangaroos.