Richmond’s decision to take three mature-aged players - Ricky Petterd (Melbourne), Sam Lonergan (Essendon) and Orren Stephenson (Geelong) in the 2013 rookie draft was no surprise.
It was something coach Damien Hardwick flagged towards the end of the 2012 season, when the Tigers were struggling to find suitable replacements in their senior side for a string of injured players.
“You’ve only got a certain amount of players you can call upon and when they get injured, there’s no other recourse. You just hang on and hope to God the other guys come back,” Hardwick said.
“It’s a brutal game and, something we really need to look at, moving forward, is the ability to bring players in and out at stages, so we can actually fix your side.
“At stages, as a coach, you just sit on your hands and hope for the best.
“I think what’ll happen is sides will get a bit smarter with the way they use their rookie lists. It becomes more of an injury reserve-type list, more than young players.
“It probably caught us a bit off-guard this year with the injuries we have. We just didn’t quite have the players available to put in straight away. They’re just not ready to go at AFL level.
“So, it’s something we’ll address . . .”
And, true to his word, Richmond has boosted its depth via today’s rookie draft, through the recruitment of the 24-year-old Petterd (54 league games), 25-year-old Lonergan (79 games) and 30-year-old Stephenson (eight games).