From injuries to coaching decisions and even umpiring calls, it’s all going wrong at Richmond in 2024


As far as flags go, Fremantle and St Kilda are clubs with the two saddest histories in the AFL, having only won one premiership between them – and even then, the Saints’ triumph was way back in the days of black and white TV.

The fans of the 16 other teams will tell you that when you lose to both of these clubs within a month of each other, that is when yours has truly hit rock bottom. This is the situation Richmond is currently in.

No team has had more senior players on their injury list this year than the Tigers, but much of that has been self-inflicted.

Dion Prestia has probably had more soft tissue injuries than anyone else in the AFL, yet Richmond saw fit to back him up off an interstate trip and five-day break between Round 0 and 1.

He has played 59 games out of the last 97. He is a shadow of his former self when he is out there, and can’t possibly be offered another contract.

Jacob Hopper has played less than 50% of games due to injury since the start of 2022, yet the Tigers rushed him straight back in after a five-week layoff, only to reinjure himself again.

Jack Graham is another who is always coming back from a quad or hamstring, forever on the edge of doing another.

As fine a player as Dylan Grimes has been over a distinguished career, his body is also breaking down, and he should arguably have retired with Jack Riewoldt and Trent Cotchin last year.

That would have given more games to the likes of up-and-comers Tom Brown and James Trezise.

In fact, Richmond has been undergoing quite an injury crisis for the last 18 months, ever since Peter Burge vacated the Physical Performance Manager role at the end of 2022, defecting to Hawthorn.

The soft tissue injuries have piled up under Luke Meehan, whose position must come under scrutiny.

Tom Lynch, Noah Balta, Tim Taranto and Jack Ross are others on the injury list, along with year-ending ACLs to Josh Gibcus and Judson Clarke.

Even still, the Tigers under Adem Yze have mostly shown great heart while under-manned this season, apart from their deplorable first half to open the season against Gold Coast, when they were 10 goals down before they knew what hit them.

Adem Yze, Senior Coach of the Tigers. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

They pushed Carlton to within a goal in Round 2, despite losing three players to injury by half-time. They pushed Port Adelaide for three quarters in Round 3, beat Sydney in Round 4 when they fielded their best team for the year, and should have beaten St Kilda in Gather Round.

Since then, the wheels have fallen off a bit, with comfortable losses to West Coast, Melbourne (where they were at least respectable against a premiership contender), and Fremantle.

Yze will of course get time to prove his worth, but that doesn’t mean he should escape notice.

Forced to play an ex-rugby league convert in Mykelti Lefau as the main focal point up forward with Lynch and Balta absent, the question has to be asked of Yze how he has adjusted the Richmond gameplan to adapt to these circumstances.

Against Melbourne in Round 7, Steven May and Jake Lever had 22 marks and almost 50 disposals between them, as time and again they marked and repelled everything that came their way.

Support your AFL team in style – check out The Oodie! They’ve got Adult Oodies for all 18 teams as well as Kids Oodies and even Dog Oodies available in selected teams.  Made from the softest, premium fabrics they are the comfiest memorabilia you’ll ever wear!  #GetYourOodieOn

The next time the Tigers stepped out, against Fremantle on Sunday, Luke Ryan was allowed to dictate proceedings to the tune of 15 marks and 30 touches (not including kick-ins).

In both games, there were no answers from the coach’s box as the same mistakes kept repeating over and over, long high balls to the advantage of the opposition backmen.

Yze, missing his starting midfield of Taranto, Prestia, Hopper and Graham, admitted in the post-match press conference that he implemented a structure against Fremantle that kept Shai Bolton out of the game in the first half.

Bolton is by far the most dangerous player at Richmond these days and was coming off a five-week run where he was averaging 21 disposals and two and a half goals a game.

He had 13 and 0 against the Dockers. This was an appalling error of coaching, regardless of experience.

These are warning signs about Yze’s credentials and suitability for a senior role.

“Our younger players have to be the silver lining for us.”

???? Hear from @ooze21 after this afternoon’s loss to Fremantle.

— Richmond FC ???? (@Richmond_FC) May 5, 2024

The umpiring of Richmond has started to get some traction in mainstream media over the last week, but it’s certainly no news to Tiger fans. You don’t have to read too deeply between the lines to know that those who have been at the club in recent years believe the umpiring department has a set against them.

Whichever breakdown you use over the last three or five years, Richmond’s free-kick differential is so far into the negative that it wouldn’t even appear on a graph with the 17 other clubs.

The Tigers were -227 between 2021-23; the next worst was Hawthorn at -85, while the Western Bulldogs fared best at +160.

There was always talk of Hardwick’s game style being conducive to giving away free kicks, but that has gone out the window with Gold Coast sitting +22 in 2024, against Yze’s Tigers ranked 18th in the metric at -49.

Tim Taranto’s personal free kick count was in the positive over his time at the Giants, but he went at -10 in his first year at Richmond.

It is certainly interesting how each round the opposing club miraculously gives away significantly less free kicks against Richmond than they average against the rest of the competition.

Richmond umpiring has reached the point opposition are given free shots for the goal line after the siren.

Tigers are bad but every week this is just laughable #afltigersfreo

— Al Paton (@al_superfooty) May 5, 2024

The Tigers are also at a pivotal stage of their list build. They still have 15 premiership players from the glory years, but Noah Balta is the only one you could confidently say has his best years in front of him.

Shai Bolton, Liam Baker and Jayden Short should maintain their peak level for a while yet. However, Baker has been making headlines as someone who could be traded back to Western Australia at season’s end.

The conundrum is whether to trade out those with some capital attached to them, and dig deeply into upcoming drafts – or do you keep the veterans around to set the standards and nurture the next wave of talent coming through.

The club itself hasn’t been setting a clear direction this season if the intent is to build for the future.

The 31yo journeyman Sam Naismith, while a great football story in and of himself, has been selected ahead of promising ruck-forward Samson Ryan, who had been in strong VFL form.

Tyler Sonsie (21yo) and Kane McAuliffe (19) have been chopped and changed several times, with no continuity in game time or position. Tom Brown (20) has looked right at home down back, but only got an opportunity through injury in the first place.

Sports opinion delivered daily 


Football fans need to be trading in one of two commodities – wins or hope.

At the moment, Richmond is offering neither, and the road ahead looks grim.

From a powerhouse dynasty as little as four seasons ago, to now sitting one spot above beleaguered North Melbourne, and behind West Coast and Hawthorn, it’s been a spectacular fall from grace.

Things can turn quickly when all the right pieces of the puzzle are in place, regardless of what the list looks like at any given point in time.

It’s just hard to see what sort of jigsaw is being assembled at Tigerland.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.