After missing out on finals in 2021, Richmond made a return to the September action in 2022 only to fall at the first hurdle. Although the journey couldn't mirror the standard that saw them claim three flags in four seasons from 2017-2020, the yellow and black are still firmly in contention.
Last season saw the emergence of Shai Bolton, who is arguably the side's X-Factor player after stepping up when superstar Dustin Martin was out due to personal reasons and injury. Richmond potentially found another crafty forward with Noah Cumberland cementing a place in the Tigers' side. Young midfielder Tyler Sonsie made an immediate impression in the middle with his competitive desire to win the ball. To solidify their midfield, the Tigers secured GWS star midfield duo Jacob Hopper and Tim Taranto to long-term deals.
Their ability to get their hands dirty and hurt the opposition, whether by hand or foot, makes the Tigers even more dangerous. Taranto, in particular, can shift forward as he did in Toby Greene's absence late in 2021, booting four goals against his new team. With the right ingredients in place, there is no reason why Richmond can't claim a fourth flag in seven seasons.
Seth Campbell (Rookie Draft), Steely Green (No.55 draft pick), Jacob Hopper (trade, Greater Western Sydney), Kaleb Smith (No.49 draft pick), Tim Taranto (trade, Greater Western Sydney), Tylar Young (Rookie Draft)
Jake Aarts (delisted), Josh Caddy (retired), Riley Collier-Dawkins (delisted), Shane Edwards (retired), Kane Lambert (retired), Will Martyn (delisted), Matthew Parker (delisted), Sydney Stack (delisted)
In the first half of 2022, Richmond had its fair share of defensive inconsistencies, giving up 100 points on four different occasions. From there, however, the side only gave up 100 points once as the backline began to mould similar to the one from three years ago.
Robbie Tarrant had a solid first season in the yellow and black, featuring in 20 games and getting the task of shutting down the opposition's number two forward. After starting last season up forward, Noah Balta swung back to the defensive end, giving the back six stability with his intercept marking. His closing speed is another asset where he excels.
The calm heads of premiership players Dylan Grimes, Nick Vlaustin and Nathan Broad allow for the defence to repel seamlessly. The trio being one of the reasons why Richmond, when they are at their best, are extremely difficult to score against. Not to mention their versatility to play on taller players and smaller players.
With Tarrant, Balta, Grimes, Broad, Vlaustin and sophomore Josh Gibcus being the defensive negators in minimising opposition forwards, its attacking half-backs fully complement the spine. Daniel Rioli, Jayden Short, and Liam Baker are the architects for a plethora of the side's counterattacks from its defensive 50.
After spending time in 2021 in the VFL, Rioli embraced a new lease by switching from a pressure small forward to an attacking half-back flanker. And it has been a success.
Rioli was brilliant in 2022 averaging 20.5 disposals, with his metres gained and excellent kicking skills setting up many Richmond forays. For his efforts, Rioli finished runner-up in the club's best and fairest behind Tom Lynch.
Like Rioli, Baker is another attacking defender not afraid to be daring. His clean crisp kicking is crucial to the Tigers' attacking gameplan. Having spent the first six rounds last season as a forward, Baker's move back to defence helped his production, and with it, the Tigers' turnaround.
Short is also important to the side's structure and at every opportunity, the Tigers look to get the ball in his trusty hands in the defensive arc to kickstart an attack.
Richmond's midfield spine stacks up as one of the best. And it only gets stronger. During last year's trade period, the Tigers made two major acquisitions by bringing in hard-nosed ball winners Jacob Hopper and Tim Taranto. The duo were integral to GWS, and now it is to the yellow and black's benefit.
Hopper's 2022 campaign never got going after injuring his knee in the opening round against Sydney, only seeing him feature in seven games. Although we didn't get to see the best of the 25-year-old, his hard competitive edge and unrelenting tenacity to extract the ball from the clinches is an element Tigers' fans are eagerly awaiting.
Like Hopper, Taranto further adds to the Tigers' midfield depth. The 24-year-old was one of the Giants' best in a rocky campaign, averaging 25.4 disposals despite missing seven games. Whilst his hardness around the contest is what he prides his game upon, Taranto also has the attributes to be dangerous up forward.
Former Skipper Trent Cotchin had a bounceback season averaging 22.7 disposals in 2022. Late in the year is when the joint 2012 Brownlow medallist was important in securing the Tigers a finals spot with back-to-back 30-disposal outings against Port Adelaide and Hawthorn. Expect him to have another even year as he is only 13 games away from becoming the fifth Tiger to play 300 matches.
Dion Prestia was one of Richmond's best last season in Martin's absence, registering seven 30-disposal games to feature among the highest Brownlow vote-getters across the competition.
Complementing Richmond's spine in the middle are important wingers Kamdyn McIntosh and Marlion Pickett. McIntosh's running ability is a crucial cog to the side, likewise Pickett despite the wing pair not accumulating major numbers.
With the midfield loaded with class, a young player in Tyler Sonsie made an instant impression late in the season. Making his debut in Round 18, the 20-year-old featured in the side's final seven games, including the elimination final, proving he belongs at the highest level.
Their ruck options remain the same for 2023, with co-captain Toby Nankervis seen as the first-string option while Ivan Soldo rotates as either a depth option or second tall depending on the selection for particular opponents.
Richmond's forward mix is dangerous and lethal. That being the reason why they led the league for most points scored (98.4 per game). Since its drought-breaking flag in 2017, scoring has not been an issue, apart from 2021. 2022 showed why Richmond, when they get a run on, are hard to stop with their marking power and nippy small forwards ready to pounce on the crumbs.
Tom Lynch is one of the premier key forwards with his vice-like hands and athleticism for a big man. His 2022 season saw him take home the club's best and fairest (Jack Dyer Medal) after kicking 63 goals. His partner-in-crime, Jack Riewoldt, isn't slowing down with his unselfish play being a major aspect of his game. The Lynch-Riewoldt tandem has been a major success for the Tigers, and you can expect them to fire again come March 16 against Carlton.
A string which is a benchmark of Richmond's forward stocks are their small to medium forwards. Shai Bolton is arguably one of the most enthralling players to watch with his uncanny ability to do the impossible.
Noah Cumberland is another find who made a seamless transition to AFL level. His goal sense would be in full effect, kicking 19 goals from 9 matches, including a five-goal haul in the side's seven-goal comeback against Brisbane last year.
There are no players more important to the team's overall nucleus than the mastery of Dustin Martin. The three-time Norm Smith medallist endured a difficult 2022, but expect the superstar to weave his unparalleled class at stoppages - with his trademark one-hand fend-offs to his dangerous one-on-one matchups deep in the goal square.
FB: Dylan Grimes, Noah Balta, Nathan Broad
HB: Daniel Rioli, Robbie Tarrant, Liam Baker
C: Kamdyn McIntosh, Dion Prestia, Marlion Pickett
HF: Shai Bolton, Jack Riewoldt, Tim Taranto
FF: Dustin Martin, Tom Lynch, Maurice Rioli Jr
FOL: Toby Nankervis, Jacob Hopper, Jayden Short
I/C: Trent Cotchin, Noah Cumberland, Tyler Sonsie, Nick Vlaustin
Sub: Hugo Ralphsmith