Tiger reserves driving AFL dream

Richmond might be just one win away from a fairytale AFL grand final but their stacked reserves are already living the dream.

The second-string Tigers face Port Melbourne in Sunday’s VFL decider at Etihad Stadium.

Reserves football is not normally something an AFL-listed player wants to be a part of.

And there are plenty of Tigers who would much prefer to be lacing up in Saturday afternoon’s preliminary final against GWS.

But Richmond coach Craig McRae says players not involved at senior level still felt responsible for their AFL run.

“In the VFL program we like to say we inspire the AFL players watching in the grandstands,” he said.

With senior coach Damien Hardwick set to stick with the players that won through to the preliminary final, a host of AFL-listed players will take on Port Melbourne.

Oleg Markov, Anthony Miles, Sam Lloyd and Jayden Short are among the players showing AFL-level form but behind in the pecking order at a club with hardly any injury concerns.

McRae saluted their professionalism, saying players at all levels were “bouncing in” to Punt Road.

“We’ve made some shifts in our game plan over the last 12 months and players are buying in,” he said.

“When players buy in and they’re all on the one page, it’s pretty powerful.

“We’re in a fortunate position where there are 20 (AFL listed players) available this week.

“The AFL team looks pretty settled at the moment. Barring injury I wouldn’t have thought there’d be much change.”

Richmond finished the VFL season fifth, winning through to the grand final with a stunning 65-point defeat of Box Hill last weekend.

A host of AFL-listed players were among their best.

Miles had 30 disposals and seven tackles, while Short and Markov were prominent.

Others will also find it hard to break in for a possible grand final appearance at AFL level.

Miles is perhaps the unluckiest – tallying extraordinary numbers in the VFL through the season and over the last month, but without a gap in the senior side to force his way into.

TIGERS ON ICE: VFL STARS WAITING FOR THEIR BREAK

Anthony Miles- AFL in 2017: 5 games, last seen in round 20 (VFL prelim: 18 kicks, 12 handballs, 7 tackles)

Sam Lloyd – AFL in 2017: 8 games, last seen in round 16 (VFL prelim: 15 kicks, 6 marks)

Jayden Short – AFL in 2017: 16 games, last seen in round 18 (VFL prelim: 19 kicks, 8 marks)

Connor Menadue – AFL in 2017: 9 games, last seen in round 16 (VFL prelim: 11 handballs)

Oleg Markov – AFL in 2017: 7 games, last seen in round 23 (VFL prelim: 19 kicks, 7 marks)

Corey Ellis – AFL in 2017: 6 games, last seen in round 21 (VFL prelim: 10 handballs, 7 tackles)

Reece Conca – AFL in 2017: 6 games, last seen in round 6 (VFL prelim: 6 marks)

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