Richmond ruckman Shaun Hampson says fierce competition for his spot from Ivan Maric is pushing his AFL game to new heights.
Hampson’s revitalised form has kept veteran ruck option Maric, who had an early season back injury, in the VFL.
Ahead of their clash with Brisbane at the MCG on Saturday, Hampson said he was enjoying the stability of holding down the No.1 spot after only managing four senior games last season.
“I’ve been relatively happy, but I still think there is a lot of improvement in my game,” Hampson said.
“Ivvy’s (Maric’s) been playing really well, as he does, and that pressure’s always there which is probably even more incentive to keep playing well.
“It’s competitive at training, but I think it helps to improve the both of us.”
Hampson said he had been warming into the season following a double ankle reconstruction and felt it took his body some time to adjust to the rigours of playing in the top side regularly.
The Tigers had a tough training session on the bye weekend to ensure the remained battle-ready for the Lions, who had a 49-point loss to the Western Bulldogs.
The 28-year-old said he felt refreshed heading into the match.
“We still had a hard training session on the weekend that was almost game-like, so in our minds it’s like we played a game and we thought that was the best way to prepare for the weekend,” Hampson said.
While Brisbane are just one from the bottom of the ladder, Hampson felt they had the ability to impress.
“They’re a bit like us, they can play some really good footy when everything’s going right,” he said.
Sitting 13th, Hampson said the Tigers hadn’t given up on making a late season charge to the AFL finals.
“You never lose belief if you’re still mathematically a chance and we’ve proven in the past that you can do it but the focus is just the next game.”