Richmond CEO Brendon Gale believes the reigning premiers are well prepared as they commence their flag defence.
Gale was the special guest at AFL North East Border’s luncheon in Albury yesterday, ahead of the Tigers first pre-season clash of the campaign against Essendon at Norm Minns Oval today.
“There’s no guarantees, all I’ll say is I think we’re really well prepared,” Gale said.
“We’re a younger list, certainly the youngest in the finals last year, so I think another year of experience under their belt will put them in good stead.
“We don’t worry on outcomes and results, they’re really disciplined the way they go about their preparation and they really focus on the things in their control.
“What will be towards the end of the season will be, so I think we’re quite disciplined in the way we can narrow our focus.”
With only two pre-season games before round one, Gale admitted the Tigers have to take them seriously.
Richmond’s 26-man squad boast 19 premiership players, with Daniel Rioli, Nathan Broad and Dion Prestia the only absences.
“We previously had three (games) and not very long ago had four, so we want to get as many minutes into our players as we can,” Gale said.
“We have (taken a different approach), basically because of the structure of the pre-season competition.
“Previously the players might have played half a game each game they played and the third game they’d play a pretty full-strength line-up.
“Now with only two games, they want to get their best 22 out and settled as quickly as possible.”
Wangaratta is part of Richmond’s Next Generation Academy academy zone and Gale believes there is significant benefits in getting away from the inner sanctum.
“I actually think it’s really good for our team and our program for our guys to get out of town and out of Punt Road into a different environment, and a different form of travel by getting the bus up, and different conditions,” he said.
“I think it’s actually good for the development of our players, particularly the young guys as well.”
And while Gale has plenty on his plate as the Tigers set their sights reaching the 90,000 mark for membership, the club has looked within its four walls to continue to develop its women’s football profile by appointing him as its VFLW ruck coach.
“It’s something I’ve made light of myself (becoming a coach) to Dimma (senior coach Damien Hardwick) for years now and he’s never been interested. It was a bit of a kick to the ego,” Gale laughed.
“Kate Sheahan is our (AFL women’s football operations) manager and she simply asked.
“It’s great to be able to support the program.
“There’s a lot of girls that don’t have a lot of experience with footy, but they’re really athletic from other sports.
“I’m happy to help that aspect of the game and it gets me out from behind the desk.
“You see the excitement and the passion and it rubs off on you a little bit.”
Today’s clash kicks off at 4.35pm.