RICHMOND captain Trent Cotchin says it’s time for the Tigers to take their game to the ”next level” as they aim for their first finals series in a dozen years.
Not since 2001 when Danny Frawley was coach, Wayne Campbell was captain and Brendon Gale, now the club’s chief executive officer, was the front-line ruckman, have the Tigers featured in September.
Since their last premiership in 1980, the Tigers have played in just eight finals, 17 fewer than any Victorian rival.
Champion Data points out that even Fitzroy, which closed its doors in 1996, played eight finals after 1980.
Now into their fourth season under coach Damien Hardwick, the Tigers know it’s time to reward their faithful and provide president Gary March with the ideal send-off in what shapes as his final year.
”We know it’s a reality – we haven’t played finals for over 10 years,” Cotchin, preparing for his first season in charge, said.
”We are absolutely giving it our all on the track at the moment. We are looking forward to getting into games to see where we are really at.”
The Tigers missed the top eight by more than three games last season but, along with Geelong, were the only clubs to beat both grand finalists, Hawthorn and Sydney.
That showed the talent is there but consistency remains an issue, exemplified by the stinging loss to the Gold Coast Suns in Cairns.
Outside of the Suns and Greater Western Sydney, the Tigers had the youngest team last season.
Cotchin hopes another strong pre-season will lift overall performance.
”You only have to look at some of our young guys and how they apply themselves on and off the field. We have really good character down at the club, which helps drive the culture we are trying to create,” he said.
”That gives us really good faith in making sure that we do develop this year. Obviously, there were times in games where we did lack that maturity and experience but hopefully we can iron those out and make sure they are winning games rather than losing by a couple of points or so.”
Just one of the Tigers’ 11 losses was by more than 22 points, highlighting their ability to remain in the contest but ultimately struggle when the pressure was at its fiercest.
Cotchin said the Tigers had worked over summer on what to do in tight situations.
”We learnt a lot about competing but we need to take it to the next level now and start winning those games we have been competitive in,” he said.
”There were probably three or four games where we made pretty poor decisions at crucial times in games with a minute or two to go. That’s going to come with maturity.
”Training those situations in games – we have done a lot of that over the pre-season so, hopefully, when they do confront us in games we know exactly what is required.”
Another area of examination has been the ball use near goal.
The Tigers managed a goal only 25 per cent of the time when inside 50 – ranked 12th – while their accuracy was also poor. This wasted the good work of their midfield, anchored by the silky Cotchin, who ensured that, on average, the game was played in their attacking half.
”We have spoken a lot about our composure going inside 50 and making sure we are kicking to our target areas and so forth,” Cotchin said.
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.