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Time to toughen up, Tiges

Former skipper Chris Newman.

Former skipper Chris Newman. Photo: Getty Images

The Tigers quickly need to toughen up. They want to mix it with the big boys, but when push comes to shove there's too many whinges, too many excuses. If you are a top-eight team, the spotlight shines brightly on you. Deficiencies are exposed. Richmond thinks it belongs there. Problem is, under fierce scrutiny, cracks are being exposed and it appears very sensitive to any criticism. And it starts at the top. Coach, captain, vice-captain and Coleman medallist. That's right, Damien Hardwick, Trent Cotchin, Brett Deledio and Jack Riewoldt.

The Tigers were bullish over summer. They felt they were stiff not to make the finals for the first time in 12 years. Under Hardwick the wins had gone from six to eight to 10. With a new, mature captain and vice-captain, Hardwick told the Richmond faithful during pre-season to get ready for September.

The first three games were wins. Lots of positive publicity, big crowds, growing membership. But the wins were not against top-eight teams from 2012. The true test would come against Collingwood, Fremantle and Geelong. An undermanned Collingwood ran over the Tigers. Pie midfielders Scott Pendlebury and Dane Swan had very good games.

On the Monday night after that game, young captain Cotchin, who had won his club's best and fairest and been named All-Australian in 2012, appeared on Fox Footy's On the Couch. Vision was shown of Swan breaking into space unopposed. The vision was to highlight Swan's positioning and hard-running capabilities. It was no big deal. But I believe Cotchin thought it was someone having a crack at his lack of accountability. It wasn't. The captain has received a mountain of accolades over the past 12 months. I just hope that he can cope with criticism.

The next week, the Tigers travelled to Perth. Deledio received a heavy tag from Ryan Crowley, the Dockers' best stopper. It severely restricted his output. And Luke McPharlin got into the head of, and put the brakes on, Riewoldt. Riewoldt stopped running to create and didn't defend as he should have. With two minutes to go, the game was in the balance. Tiger substitute Matt White shoots for goal from the tightest of angles. It hits the goal umpire's leg and is rushed through for a behind. Would it have been a goal? Probably. But it doesn't matter because seconds later, White goals from another boundary-line shot. The Tigers hit the front. Five points up with 90 seconds to play. It's simply time to stack the back line for the centre bounce. Tiger legend Matthew Richardson calls the play from the boundary. He says the Tigers have practised this situation over summer. But do they do it? No. There's too many high-fives and hugs still going on over White's miracle goal. There's no leadership on the ground, and has Hardwick got the runner out to set up the back line attack? Regardless, it doesn't happen. Fremantle forces the ball forward and goals. Richmond loses another close one.

The coach is furious. He tees off on the goal umpire and the goal review system. The anger is misguided. It should be at his players and himself for failing to implement the correct structure at the final centre bounce.

After the narrow loss to Fremantle, both Deledio and Riewoldt were criticised in the media for their ordinary performances. The coach felt a need to defend his players. But Damien, don't mollycoddle them. They are big boys and there's nothing wrong with admitting that you got beaten on the day. Leading the charge against Riewoldt was former Carlton captain and centre half-forward Mark Maclure. Among other things, Maclure used the words "prima donna" to describe Riewoldt. Jack, the lad, didn't like it. Jack says the day he starts listening to the media is the day to give the game away. Not sure about that, Jack. Maclure has three things that you don't. Premiership medals. He also knows what sacrifice and putting the team first is all about. If you shared a coffee you should learn plenty.

So week three of the big challenge comes for the Tigers. They capitulate against the Cats. Geelong fields nine players with less than 50 games. The Tigers have only four. Deledio is tagged again, this time by Taylor Hunt. Again, his numbers are well down. Frustration builds. Cotchin and former skipper Chris Newman give away costly, undisciplined free kicks. It's a bad look. After the game, retired Tiger Nathan Brown, on radio, gives three votes for worst on ground to Deledio. He is not, of course; it was tongue-in-cheek. But the vice-captain can't handle the criticism.

The next morning he drags his bottom lip into Channel Nine. Matthew Lloyd is on the panel, so too is Brown. Lloyd says he has never seen a player as flat as Deledio is on Sunday morning. Some criticism by an ex-teammate has cut him to the quick. It doesn't do Deledio's image any good. On Saturday, in Adelaide, I expect Port's Kane Cornes will remind him of it. So, come on Tiges. Stop sooking. Harden up. Put the egos aside on game day and learn how to take the good with the bad.

62 comments

  • You make some good points Wallsy. I'm not sure that Dimma is whinging behind closed doors with the players though.

    Lids went to Mundy and shut him down against Freo whilst getting 20 possessions.

    Jacks opponents know he is not fast enough to run away from them. They initiate contact and cuddle him, he can't run away. Must be very frustrating.

    Maybe Richmond aren't quite experienced enough yet and need Foley, Conca and Tuck in the team to support Cotch. Maybe Cotch is carrying a knee. Maybe zero free kicks between late in the first and middle of the third while Geelong gets 13 makes it hard against a great team.

    Might sound like whinging but I'm a supporter so I'm allowed.

    Commenter
    Dmac
    Location
    Punt Road End
    Date and time
    May 09, 2013, 5:45PM
    • Way too many 'MAYBES' in there DMAC... Seems you have contracted the same 'excuses disease' that Wallsy is speaking about...Selwood & Johnson 'sucked' your 2 boys Cotchin & Newman in way too easily at a crucial time in that game. From that point onwards your team lost the plot and the game!

      Commenter
      procrastinator
      Date and time
      May 10, 2013, 10:01AM
    • Agree with procastinator. The one big thing we lack is experience in the hard games against quality opposition. Selwood and Johnson (and a few other Geelong players) 'psyched' Richmond players out verbally and physically, resulting in crucial free kicks against us. Too many of our big notes went missing when things got tough early in the 3rd quarter. Nobody could touch us when we were 4 goals up in the first half, but against a quality side like Geelong, 4 goals is 5 minutes of dedicated, tough football.

      Commenter
      bertie num nums
      Location
      sydney
      Date and time
      May 10, 2013, 1:25PM
    • Very true Wallsy - straight to the point. Time for tigers to stand up and be counted.

      Commenter
      Glen
      Location
      Yea
      Date and time
      May 10, 2013, 1:45PM
    • I'm not sure what you want Newman to do when Selwood came at him? Just let him stand over him? It was an umpiring error that a 50m was paid against Newman. Another umpire signalled for it to be reversed because Selwood was the instigator. The officiating umpire missed and he was the one sucked in.
      We can all write critical articles about clubs if we twist facts to suit our agenda. Go back and listen to Dimma's press conference after the Freo loss. He was asked the question about the umpiring mistake, he didn't raise the issue. If the ball missed the point post and Freo lost by 4 points would they be under scrutiny for losing a close game? They led by 14 points in the last and nearly lost it.

      Commenter
      Dmac
      Location
      Punt Road End
      Date and time
      May 10, 2013, 3:29PM
  • Robert, you knock the Tigers at every opportunity. Is it because they once sacked you? You and Mark Maclure both were good players but are very average commentators and never provide any deep analysis, but only trot out emotive comments. Give it away Robert.

    Commenter
    Rocket
    Date and time
    May 09, 2013, 5:47PM
    • So did you come here and read this just to satisfy yourself that Robert has written another dud article?

      Always been a fan of Walls' "school of hard knocks" analysis and commentary.

      Commenter
      LachyW
      Location
      Melbs
      Date and time
      May 09, 2013, 6:42PM
    • He is spot on. Its time the Tigers and their fans faced reality again. They haven't improved anywhere near as much as they think, they are back slapping, high fiving whingers who again won't make the 8. One day they will take notice of the critics and that is when they will improve.

      Commenter
      azzaman
      Date and time
      May 10, 2013, 8:05AM
    • i'm a tiger supporter & agree with everything that walls has written. That being said both Walls & maclure are hopeless commentators. Maclure in particular only breaks into voice when he wants to bag someone/something.

      Commenter
      Mike basil
      Location
      Hobart
      Date and time
      May 10, 2013, 8:59AM
  • Hate to but can't help Agee with a bit of this. Actions speak louder than words so this weekend good chance to get back to consistent hard footy.

    Commenter
    ajr
    Date and time
    May 09, 2013, 6:05PM

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