The opening round of the AFL season saw Richmond soaring with a 43 point win.
Albeit against Carlton, Richmond’s best stepped up and showed the fans their footy prowess and exciting future. Richmond’s finest had unbelievable games. Namely, Dustin Martin.
Richmond’s Best and Fairest for 2016 clinically reminded the footy world why he’s one of the best. Martin was beyond impressive. He finished with a team-high 33 disposals which included six clearances, six inside-50s and four rebound-50s. Martin managed 13 score involvements, four goals himself and four assists.
Five marks and four tackles rounded off his statistics with a game-high 817 metres gained and 159 SuperCoach points (second to Josh. J. Kennedy with 174). Captain, Trent Cotchin had a decent game picking up 21 disposals, a team high of eight clearances, five inside 50s and laid eight tackles.
The old heroes stood up but perhaps it was the debutants that had Tigerland buzzing. Dion Prestia’s first game in the yellow and black provided the glitz and glamour footy fans had hoped. Prestia managed 28 disposals, six clearances, six inside 50s, three rebound-50s, five tackles with a debut goal to boot. His pace through midfield and attacking footy was a highlight of the match and a perfect partnership for Martin.
“We did a lot of work over pre-season – a lot of new players and new coaches coming in,” Prestia told Channel 7.
“I think we’re a lot different to what [they] were last year – so we looked pretty good tonight. We need to keep backing it up.”
Former Gold Coast teammate, Josh Caddy, had an average night with just 17 disposals and a goal from a brilliant Dustin Martin barrel kick assist.
What is more exciting for Caddy, however, is that he provides another attacking midfield role-player.
Caddy has the potential for massive success at Punt Rd if he continues his attacking positioning and goal scoring ability.
Young Jason Castagna had a sterling night in his sixth senior league game. He picked up 20 disposals, ten contested possessions, five inside-50s and ten score involvements.
Castagna is a phenomenal ball user, highlighted in his overall game.
He scored two goals, got three marks and four tackles with an impressive 315 metres gained.
Adding to the list of dangerous debutants is Dan Butler.
Speedy and skilful in the forward line, Butler got 19 disposals, five inside 50s, two goals and manage three tackles.
Speaking of his debut, Butler told foxfooty.com.au that “it was a pretty unbelievable experience.
“I had a pretty solid pre-season, but still wasn’t 100 percent sure whether I was going to play or not.
“I got told at Sunday training. Dimma [Coach Damien Hardwick] brought everyone in and told me, and the boys went crazy. It was pretty exciting.
“We just love being out there, putting on pressure, and trying to get on the end of a few.”
Toby Nankervis in the ruck was additionally a menace.
Traded to Richmond from Sydney, the ruckman scored an opening quarter goal that lifted Richmond’s game and spirits early.
“I don’t know how it went through… Just slammed it on the boot and got a bit lucky. It was a nice way to start,” Nankervis told 3AW post game.
Nankervis finished the game with three marks, three tackles, 27 hit-outs and added two goals to his tally.
Nankervis played 12 games in three years at Sydney and is excited to get game time for the Tigers.
“It’s definitely where I like playing… in the ruck,” he said.
“It was frustrating at times last year being in and out of the team and playing a lot of reserves footy.
“But it’s nice to have a really good pre-season. Don’t think I missed a session and [I’m] feeling really fit and strong and just looking to build and improve every week.”
Richmond’s victory over Carlton was expected. However, it contained within in the emergence of star power and progressive future for the Tigers.
With the veterans playing incredible football and the young’uns and debutants living up to their potential, Richmond could find themselves convincingly winning a few more games than previously anticipated.