After playing for his future last year, Richmond's Rhyan Mansell finds himself in the same position in 2024, and he's using the uncertainty to drive himself forward.

Having cemented a role in the Tigers' senior side last year, Mansell put pen to paper on a new one-year in the middle of the trade period to extend his tenure at Punt Road.

The Tasmanian's prospects for this season got off on the right foot in the pre-season, with Mansell shining at the club's intra-club to emerge as Adem Yze's leading small forward weapon for the season ahead.

A syndesmosis injury prior to Round 1 curtailed Mansell's season, but he has since returned to make his mark in a struggling Richmond outfit.

The 23-year-old hasn't taken the easy route to get to 40 AFL games, having been passed on by North Melbourne as a Next Generation Academy prospect before venturing to South Australia to keep his dream alive.

The North Launceston native gained the interest of the Tigers in 2021 after a promising spell in the SANFL with Woodville-West Torrens, with the uneasy way often a driving factor behind Mansell's rise.

Speaking to Zero Hanger, Mansell said he has managed to find motivation in a period of unpredictability.

"Last year I had a bit of a focus on it, it motivated me," the Tigers forward said of being without a contract.

Richmond's Rhyan Mansell at Tigers pre-season training, 2024 (Image via Richmond FC)

"You always want to play your strongest, but knowing you're out of a contract you want to play good football. I felt like I did that and was fortunate enough to get another contract.

"This year I guess it's the same thing. I'm just motivated to do my best for the team and by doing that hopefully I'll be at the football club for a lot longer."

While Richmond continue searching for their second win of the season, Mansell is playing career-best football after starting his time in yellow and black as a defender before switching forward.

The young Tiger is just scratching the surface and is hoping to reach further heights before the season is over.

"I feel like I'm starting to regain form after that injury," he said.

"My match fitness was probably the best its felt on Saturday night.

"I feel like I'm heading towards the right direction and hopefully setting up for having a strong year this year."

Mansell is helping lead the new era of Tigers small forwards after the shift from premiership crop Daniel Rioli, Dan Butler, Jason Castagna and Josh Caddy.

With Maurice Rioli, Seth Campbell and the uncapped Steely Green joining Mansell as the goalsneak Tiger cubs, the club is confident its future is in safe hands.

But the Tigers have been able to rely on the past to aid their push forward, with triple-premiership hard-nut Kane Lambert playing a significant role in the development of Richmond's emerging youngsters.

Dylan Grimes, Kane Lambert and Ben Miller during Richmond's open training on December 20, 2022 (Photo by Cameron Grimes/Zero Digital Sports)

"Kane's done a lot of work with the likes of Seth Campbell and Steely Green, and for Maurice and myself we've been around for a few years while he's been midfield coach," Mansell said of the Tigers assistant.

"He helps us out and has been better for the younger boys, that's why we're seeing them showcase how they play and the strengths that they bring.

"Hopefully Steely gets an opportunity soon. We've seen Seth, he's going to be a promising young player for the football club in the future."

Mansell, a Palawa Indigenous Australian, will don Richmond's 2024 guernsey designed by Maurice Rioli and his mother, Alberta Kerinauia, across Sir Doug Nicholls Round across the next two weeks.

Richmond will face Brisbane in Queensland this week before the highly-anticipated Dreamtime clash against Essendon at the MCG in Round 11.

For Mansell, there's no better occasion on the calendar than having the chance to represent his people on the big stage.

"I'm looking forward to it. It's going to be my second Dreamtime," Mansell said.

Essendon's Jayden Davey and Richmond's Rhyan Mansell pose for a photo, 2024 (Image via Richmond FC)

"I'll have family over, so it'll be a proud moment running out onto the ground, the pre-game stuff is unbelievable. It's probably my favourite thing of the year.

"We've obviously got a lot of brothers that play at Richmond. So everyone's keen to get out there and wear Maurice's guernsey for him. Unfortunately, he won't be wearing it but we're keen to do him proud while we wear it."

 2024-05-18T09:30:00Z 
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