Can Richmond actually make an impact in this year’s finals series?
The Tigers have been spoken about as a team who might just be able to do some damage if they happen to make the top eight.
Damien Hardwick’s side managed to return to eighth spot with an impressive 38-point win over Port Adelaide in Adelaide on Saturday night.
The result came after the 10th-placed Western Bulldogs had been beaten by Fremantle and on the same night St Kilda, who were holding eighth, fell to Geelong.
With the Tigers now the keepers of their own destiny with two home and away fixtures remaining, the question was asked – Can they win the flag? (Provided they make the finals, of course).
Nathan Buckley and Garry Lyon discussed the Tigers on SEN Breakfast and what they may or may not be capable of.
Buckley believes the 2017, 2019 and 2020 premieres will make the eight given they play Hawthorn and Essendon in Round 22 and 23.
“I think of the balance of it now, they will get there,” Buckley said.
“Can they do any damage at all?”
While Lyon acknowledges how good the Tigers have been, he says injuries to Dylan Grimes and Nick Vlastuin, as well as the ongoing absence of Dustin Martin, will make it difficult for them to seriously contend.
He says while there are good signs through the form of Shai Bolton and Tom Lynch, overall it will be an extremely tricky task for Richmond to make a serious dent in the finals.
“I think they’ve been one of the teams of the last half-century, but I think it’s going to be a challenge for them,” Lyon said.
“You lose Grimes from that group and if Vlastuin doesn’t play, Martin’s out of the side, of course it’s going to test you.
“It’s tested to the fact that they can keep coming up and Bolton is stepping into Dustin’s shoes. Whenever they need a lift he’s able to give them something.
“Tom Lynch the last few weeks reminds you of how good a player he is.
“Of course they’re a dangerous, dangerous floater, but can they win it? I think that the injuries might just take a toll.”
Buckley likes what he sees of the regeneration on the run which is occurring under Hardwick, citing the impact of lesser known players such as Ben Miller, Tyler Sonsie, Jack Ross and Noah Cumberland, among others.
“What about some of these names – Miller, Sonsie, Ross, who has been a fringe player for a while, Cumberland, who has come in of late,” Buckley added.
“They’ve got a lot of young players who are coming in and playing roles nearly above and beyond their time.”
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Lyon said: “It’s going to hold them in great stead beyond this year.”
Buckley continued, highlighting the absence of Kane Lambert, who along with superstar Martin, have helped take Richmond to the next level across the last handful of seasons.
“I love what Richmond has been able to do this year. They rewired early,” he said further.
“Lambert and Martin, that one-two punch, was as important as any one-two punch over the last five years. To win their flags, those guys were as pivotal as any.
“They’ve done really well to be in this position. I still think their best footy actually really challenges.
“It’s just whether they can do it for four quarters consistently enough against the best opposition.”
Lyon added: “I think that’s absolutely fair but can they win four finals and take them to a premiership?”
Buckley: “I think that’s a stretch but can they win a final or two?”
Lyon: “Yeah of course they could, given their pedigree and the players that they will have available.
“It’s what makes the anticipation of this final series so real.”
The Tigers next meet the Hawks at the MCG this Sunday.