Richmond star Jack Riewoldt has slipped into the position vacated by vice-captain Brett Deledio … in the official 2017 team photo.
With debate raging over Riewoldt’s three-year absence from the leadership group, the Tigers’ team photo shoot could be an indication that Jack is back.
Since Riewoldt was dropped from the club’s leadership group before the 2014 season the seats either side of coach Damien Hardwick on team photo day have been occupied by skipper Trent Cotchin and his deputy, Deledio.
But with Deledio’s departure for Greater Western Sydney, a beaming Riewoldt said ‘cheese’ immediately to Hardwick’s right at Punt Road on Friday.
An unintentional leadership clue or pure coincidence?
Before the photo shoot, Tigers forward Sam Lloyd told reporters the team was yet to discuss the on-field leadership group for 2017.
But whether Jack’s back or not, Lloyd doesn’t think it will make much difference.
“In my opinion I don’t really mind if Jack’s in the leadership group or not,” Lloyd said.
“The title of ‘leadership group’ for him is not going to stop him talking or stop him leading.
“It’s probably just a title next to his name because he’s a fantastic leader already.
“Whether he’s in the leadership group or not … I don’t know if it will faze him but I don’t think it will faze many players because he’s going to lead regardless.”
Shane Edwards and Alex Rance, both members of the club’s leadership group last year, sat next to Cotchin and Riewoldt respectively.
As for the other debate involving Riewoldt – to play the damaging forward deep in attack or to allow him to roam further afield – Thursday’s intra-club match offered another clue.
Riewoldt didn’t venture far from attacking 50 and impressed track watchers.
“We have a debate going on between ourselves about who plays deep … I try to get him out,” Lloyd, who kicked 35 goals last season, joked.
“But I think Jack plays better when he’s up the ground at times and then can play deep as well.
“He had a really strong hitout (on Thursday) and looked dangerous up forward and kicked (a few) goals.
“If he can do that every game I don’t really care where he plays.”