Coach Damien Hardwick has a simple mission for Richmond key forward Tyrone Vickery in the AFL – keep it going.
Often a frustrating player for Tigers fans, Vickery has starred the past fortnight with four goals against Gold Coast and a best-afield performance last Saturday against Collingwood.
The challenge for Vickery now is ongoing consistency.
“We still feel he has a significant amount of upside as well, so that’s exciting,” Hardwick said on Thursday.
“But you’re only measured on your next performance and that’s the key for Ty, to back up his performance last week and the week previous.”
Hardwick said Vickery was reaping the benefit of hard work on his contesting marking and goalkicking.
While Vickery looms as a headache for the Essendon defence this Saturday night at the MCG, the Bombers also have Hardwick concerned.
He noted a different playing style last weekend in their first game under interim coach Matthew Egan as they lost to Gold Coast by two points.
“The one thing you like as a coach is predictability and it’s very hard when you bring in a new coach, because their style will change somewhat,” he said.
Hardwick said Essendon were playing on more and trying to make greater use of the corridor.
Richmond will start warm favourites but Hardwick said his team cannot take Essendon lightly two games from the finals.
“They were probably a little more direct, I thought, than they had been,” he said of last weekend.
“(Cale) Hooker going up forward has been a real bonus for them – I think it’s made (Joe) Daniher a better player because of his presence.
“Obviously (Jake) Carlile going back, they’ve swung a few things around.
“They have some very good players, so any side that has that talent … is capable of beating anyone if they don’t come thoroughly prepared.”
As Richmond keep improving, they are being mentioned more often in trade rumours.
Hardwick wryly noted that in current trade speculation, it’s his club and “insert (name) here”.
It is a safe bet that they will be much more active in trade week than a year ago.
The Tigers did not make one trade at the end of last season, instead recruting Taylor Hunt as a delisted free agent and putting all their energy into the draft.
“Last year obviously we wanted to go the draft – we thought it was a very strong draft and we were happy with that,” he said.
“This year the goal posts may have changed.”
Hardwick said they had also told the players to watch their on-field behaviour after some byplay with Collingwood fans last weekend.
Dustin Martin found himself in trouble for giving Magpies fans a two-fingered salute.
“We just want to control what we control within the white lines and it’s something we spoke to our group about – we didn’t like it,” he said.
“We like our players to celebrate goals with their teammates (and) we like our players to just worry about what’s happening within the white lines.”