AFL 2019: Richo’s Post Match Presser – Round Four v Hawthorn

Even when the deficit ballooned to 26-points in the third quarter, Alan Richardson refused to believe it to great for his to team to overcome. “No, the guys have been resilient,” he told reporters post-match. “I expected us to fight back. Were we going to be able to put it on the scoreboard? That’s the challenge for us at the minute. We are not quite maximising our effort in front of the ball. Lonie could have had an amazing day really, he’s ended up with eight shots and kicked three goals five. So that’s still a challenge for us but I was really confident that the boys would continue to fight. This group’s got a lot of character,” he said.

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“I know they’re a bit undermanned, we are a bit undermanned, so it was two teams with some younger players out there. I was pleased with our guys. I’m pleased with the fact that blokes that have been around three, four, five years now, are having a greater influence on the game. [Jack] Billings has had a really strong start to the year but this was another level tonight I reckon. The influence he had on the game. Not just getting numbers but winning really critical contests like that mark late when they were coming hard.”

“Blake Acres was really powerful the way he ran out the game. I’ve already mentioned Lonie but I thought those guys, that group of blokes were quite strong for us. Paton did a good job. So Paton warmed up here today for the VFL game and then because Geary wasn’t quite getting as well as we would have liked, we’ve had to hold him out of the VFL game even though he was sitting on the VFL bench. So he’e been here for a long time today. He probably got here at about 10.30, so he’s done a good job and I like the way he played. I thought he showed some real composure with the ball and I thought he was really desperate in defence. So that’s a long summary but that’s where I think the groups at. The younger blokes are having a greater influence this year and that should happen, or otherwise we’re going in the wrong direction, and that’s pleasing.”

Richardson was full of praise for stand-in skipper Seb Ross who finished with 39-possessions in a best on ground performance. “It was a fantastic game,” he told reporters. “We think he’s a pretty special player Seb. He’s got a great balance of attack and defence, he’s a really good organiser of others, he’s composed. He spoke to the group after the game and he spoke about how proud he was of them in terms of the way they committed to the task. From the 16-minute mark of the third quarter they didn’t score a goal again and that was a testament to our defence, but a testament to the fact the guys dug in and wanted the victory.”

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Asked for the catalyst behind the improved resilience in the group and Richardson suggested it came down to hard work. “I think fundamentally, the guys have really strong belief in their legs,” he said. “I think they believe that on the back of incredibly hard work they’re a hard running team and so we are never going to be out of the game. We’re going to be able to end up with really strong numbers at contests because we run well. I think they’ve got a lot of belief in each other now because of this improvement that’s starting to come with players that have been here for a while now. So I think that’s where its come from.”

The Coach was confident that his team’s running power but stopped short of declaring them one of the fittest teams in the competition. “The reality is I don’t know because I only know about our group and I know that our group are a really good running group,” he said. “You get the opportunity to look at numbers from other clubs, in fact we get other club’s gps data, and we run well. The reality is that often if you run more than the opposition you haven’t had a good day.”

“But I just know that the work our players did in the preseason on the back of a really disappointing year, a lot of strong physical work with a couple of guys that have been involved with the [Melbourne] Storm, I think the get a lot of belief out of that. I think you see the growth physically in the contest of the likes of Sinclair and Billings, people who have really grown their game in that space. Just that we’ve run so, and challenged them so much to run hard, they’ve done the work. They’ve embrace the work and now they believe in themselves.”

Richardson refused to be drawn on whether his team had earned the respect of the competition. “I just focus on our group,” he said. “That is, i think that if we can continue to believe and continue to improve, whilst winning, then we’re a chance to be competitive against anyone. That’s really my only focus. The commentary that occurs externally doesn’t really know the work you’ve done, they don’t really know the bond you’re creating between teammates. That’s ok but importantly we do and that’s all I care about.”

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He admitted that he wasn’t sure if this was the best the team had played under his coaching but suggested he didn’t concern himself with that kind of discussion. “We had a 12-10 year and an 11-11 year, I don’t know but once again I don’t focus on those ‘outcome’ opinion. I Just focus on how can we improve. Our review will be balanced this week because there was a bit we didn’t get right tonight. There was a bit we got wrong. That’s not really for me to say.”

Despite his waywardness in front of goal, Richardson was full of praise for Jack Lonie’s performance. “I thought he had a ripper of a game. I thought he’s contest in the air, they are the best team in the competition in terms of marking the opposition ball and it was 3-14 their way in that stat at half time and we were able to go 5-5 in that stat in the second half. Blokes like Lonie and Long were a big part of that. I thought Kent gave us some better contest after half time after he was pretty well down in the first half.”

“We did need a bit more of Blake Acres to ruck and Rowan Marshall to go forward just to try and make sure they didn’t mark our kick because they were just too effective in that space. I really liked Lonie’s game I thought his pressure was strong, we had a bit of a joke about ‘the big sticks are where the six points are’ after the game but gee he worked. He’s a clever player Lones, he’s a tough kid, his teammates love him and so do I. He’s going well.”

He sees Rowan Marshall’s future split between the ruck and forward line. “I think he has the potential to do a little bit of both. He still has some work to do. We had a really good day in the ruck last week in Perth but weren’t able to maximise. Freo were a little too good for us in and around there. Hawthorn were on top of us early in the game, in fact for big parts of the game, it was really pleasing the last quarter went 15-5 our way although Blake was in there a bit too.”

“Rowan’s got a lot of scope, he’s got some talent in front of the ball and we think his mobility in the ruck, and he’s only a young ruckman and that could take a while, so in the meanwhile we just want him to compete. We know McEvoy is an outstanding player and I thought his contest was really good for a big part of the night.”

He denied that the team’s strong start was having a bearing on the cautious approach being taken in relation to star recruit Dan Hannebery. “It’s just reality that that’s how long it looks like its going to take. What is pleasing is he is starting to make progression. That was the part that was frustrating Hanners and frustrating us was that as he was just starting to step it up he was continually getting sore but it looks like he is starting to get there now. It’s going to take a lot of continuity of training and I was asked if it was going to be round six [that he would return] and that’s obviously not going to be the case. But it is exciting for our footy club when Dan’s back but it’s only when he’s right that we’ll bring him back.”

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He admitted that a return date for Jack Steven was also unknown “Jack trained really well this morning which is pleasing and we’re hopeful that he’ll be back but we’ll just have to wait and see,” he said.

Richardson believed improved ball use was the answer to improving their scoring issues. “We just need to keep working on our connection,” he said. “We butchered the footy a couple of times tonight when we were out and when we were clear. We probably need to get a little more balance between playing straight line, they smashed us in terms of marking our kick and we were able to get that back to some extent but we need to be able to shift the ball a little bit more. It’s not much, and I think the guys are getting close to being more efficient with their rebound and with their entry but we’ve still got a bit of work to do there.”

He was confident that Jarryn Geary would return to the team next week. “If he’s right he comes back yeah. He was only crook. It looked like he was going to play, poor old Patto was waiting for a long time but obviously not to be. We expect him to be back.”

The prognosis for Daniel McKenzie was less clear after leaving the ground concussed. “He obviously has symptoms now. We’ll just wait and see how he pulls up and whether he will be right.”

Asked again about Jack Steven’s absence. “He just wasn’t right to play.”

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