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Richmond's plan to play like Hawks hasn't worked, admits Jack Riewoldt

If Richmond is looking for answers for its early season demise, Jack Riewoldt has offered what appears to be a major one. The star forward believes the Tigers have spent too much time trying to play in the mould of premiers Hawthorn, a team which boasts some of the competition's elite players.

With just the two wins this season, the Tigers have little, if any, chance of making the finals for a second straight season. Club president Peggy O'Neal had said over summer a finals berth would be a pass mark.

The Hawks have been meticulous with their kicking in recent seasons but have the required skill to play a high-possession game. The Tigers have unsuccessfuly tried to emulate this.

The Tigers have close links with the Hawks. Coach Damien Hardwick was an assistant coach at the Hawks and remains a close friend of Hawks' counterpart Alastair Clarkson. The clubs have also held match simulation sessions together over summer.

"We probably tried to copy Hawthorn a little bit too much with our kicking style," Riewoldt said on Wednesday.

"We probably need to rely a little bit more on natural progression, which I think we'll get back to. Actually, I know we'll get back to.


"You try new things and unfortunately you learn from your mistakes. We've learned from it as a playing group, as a coaching group and as a football club as a whole."

The Tigers had looked to move the ball in the manner of the Hawks to leap into the top four. While many had expected their development to remain on an upward curve, Hardwick has said he expected a slump at some stage - just not necessarily right now.

"Unfortunately we went one way with our game, and the game went the other way, really," Riewoldt said.

"I think we would be pretty boring if we didn't try new things. We're trying to be ahead of the game. We're trying to invent something new that can shape the game and get it on our terms."

While that may be the case, statistics show the Tigers haven't changed a great deal in terms of their percentage of short kicks from last season, although they have dipped from fifth to 13th. They also prefer to kick more often than handball.

Hardwick was shattered after the loss to Melbourne on Saturday - a day when the Tigers had hoped to celebrate the life of coaching legend Tom Hafey.
He and his team must regroup in time to face Greater Western Sydney in Sydney on Saturday.

"The two biggest things in AFL footy that lead to a successful side are momentum and confidence and, at the moment, we don't have any momentum and there are a lot of guys down on self-confidence and we need to find a way to get momentum back and get our season up and rolling," Riewoldt said.

What has been of concern for the Tigers is lack of quick movement from half-back, which wasn't helped earlier in the season by an injury to playmaker Brett Deledio. The Tigers have slumped from 35.9 per cent last season to 30.9 per cent - from seventh to 15th - in terms of playing on from a mark.

The Tigers will hope Riewoldt, who managed only 17 goals in eight matches this season, can lift his production this weekend.

Despite this year's woes, Shane Edwards has shown faith in the club's direction by re-signing for another two years. The speedy Edwards, 25, would have been an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.