Champion Richmond defender Alex Rance has flagged improved decision-making as the area where he can take his game to an even more elevated level in 2016.
The Tigers will be short-priced favourites to open the AFL season with a comfortable victory over Carlton at the MCG on Thursday night, although Rance cautioned against taking the rebuilding Blues lightly.
No.1 draft pick Jacob Weitering has been a standout for the Blues in the NAB Challenge and is certain to be pitched straight into senior action against Richmond, among several other new faces.
“It’s going to be exciting to see what they can dish up,” Rance said before training on Sunday.
“We’ve seen with their pre-season games obviously they’ve got a pretty handy No.1 draft pick who has taken a lot of intercept marks and has been pretty good for them.
“They’ve got a new coach (Brendon Bolton) as well so we definitely won’t be rolling in thinking it’s going to be an easy win because they’ve shown they can play some good footy in the pre-season.”
Rance enters the 2016 campaign as arguably the best key-position defender in the competition, having being selected in the All-Australian team in each of the past two seasons.
He also won Richmond’s best and fairest award in 2015.
But the 26-year-old has no intention of resting on his laurels.
“I can definitely improve (my decision making) – just ask Dimma (coach Damien Hardwick),” said Rance.
“It’s always been a knock on my game, since my early days, that I would rush and things like that.
“So, it’s just about being calm and composed.
“It’s also about making others around me better, especially Grimesy (Dylan Grimes), Nick Vlastuin, Dave Astbury, blokes like that, who are really starting to come into their own, to develop their own leadership skills and to help them to thrive as well.”
Richmond are confident that important utility Shane Edwards (shoulder) and hard-running midfielder Shaun Grigg (broken thumb) will have recovered from injuries suffered in the concluding pre-season match against Port Adelaide in time to take on Carlton.
But former Blue Chris Yarran (foot surgery) and luckless Reece Conca (hamstring) are definite absentees.