RICHMOND midfielder Daniel Jackson says the Tigers have run out of excuses.
He admitted it was time they met expectation, starting tonight with a strong showing in the sold-out NAB Cup blockbuster against Essendon at Norm Minns Oval.
The Tigers arrived in the North East late yesterday and were swamped by fans after a light training run.
And Jackson, who is about to enter his 10th season in the AFL, said the club was embracing, not hiding, from the high hopes being placed on the group from those supporters.
Richmond last played finals in 2001.
“We really don’t have any more excuses,” Jackson said.
“Our group’s not as young as it was and we’ve got a lot more experience.
“We played some good footy last year but had little lapses in games that ended up being really close and didn’t fall our way.
“We expect to win those games this year and, if we do that, who knows what we can do?”
Jackson said the Tigers had shown they could match it with the AFL’s elite and were expecting to do the same this season.
“The group’s been training really well and we’re really excited about having a good year,” he said.
“We showed last year we can beat some of the best sides and we’re expecting to do the same this year.
“We’ve known since ‘Dimma’ (coach Damian Hardwick) walked in the door that it was going to be a long journey but we’ve really started to take steps along that now.”
He said the club shared the optimism of its long-starved supporter base.
“Richmond supporters are very faithful and have been through some tough times,” Jackson said.
“They’ve waited a long time and are expecting a lot but so are we.”
Meanwhile, the Players’ Association delegate again defended the integrity of the sport in the wake of the drugs saga.
“We just do what we do,” Jackson said.
“We’re always going to train hard and play hard.
“The whole AFL playing group know there’s a lot of integrity in the game.
“Blokes don’t go out there to cheat on performance.
“They go out there to do the hard work.
“That’s how we go about it, that’s the attitude, that’s culture of the AFL and it’s something we’re really proud of.
“I think we’ll find going forward that’s exactly what’s proven.”
Jackson said he was impressed by the facilities at Norm Minns Oval and was thrilled to get out of Melbourne.
“It’s a very nice deck out there,” he said.
“That’s the best thing about this time of year. We’ve spent nearly every day of the whole summer training in Melbourne.
“To come up on a nice weekend like this is good for the boys.”
Tonight’s clash starts at 5.10pm.
There are no tickets left for the Foxtel-televised match.