MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 24: Alex Rance of the Tigers walks down the race during the 2018 AFL round five match between the Melbourne Demons and the Richmond Tigers at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on April 24, 2018 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Adam Trafford/AFL Media/Getty Images)

North Melbourne great David King has outlined the four key factors which will determine whether Richmond can keep their premiership chances alive without star defender Alex Rance.

The All-Australian captain endured a devastating ACL injury during the third term of his side’s opening round game against Carlton last week, forcing Tigers to consider life without their defensive weapon.

“I’ve probably stopped short a couple of times of saying, “They can’t win without (Rance)’,” King said on Fox Footy’s AFL 360.

“But the more you watch – particularly from behind the goals – it’s not that you can’t replace the player, it’s that he does so much in their system. He is the system.

“He is the reason they play the way they do. They have a forward half press because this guy can do everything.”

King said there are four key factors surrounding Richmond’s upcoming season, the signs which may expose one of the more dominant teams of the past two seasons.

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1. Who flies?

“If too many Richmond defenders fly because there’s no trust. If four go up, the ball spills and it’s an easy goal.”

The entire back six is guided by Rance’s leadership and football smarts. Without him, they have the potential to fall apart when the ball is bombed inside defensive 50 or thereabouts.

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Here King is describing what teams in recent seasons have had trouble with going up against the Tigers, where too many key defenders fly for a contest to only result in a goal for one of Richmond’s mosquito fleet forwards.

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