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Grand recollections: Alex Rance

Tony Greenberg,  October 12, 2017 3:10 PM

Grand recollections: Rance Alex Rance reflects on the 2017 Premiership.

We continue our special post-season series presenting the thoughts of Richmond’s latest premiership heroes on that one day in September 2017. Today, the Tigers’ star key defender and co vice-captain Alex Rance opens up about the glorious triumph.

Grand Final lead-up

“It was almost a sense of controlled chaos in a way. We knew that it was always happening and ‘Dimma’ (coach Damien Hardwick) was very clear about enjoy it, embrace it, have a look around, smell the roses, don’t get too nervous and uptight about it. It is what it is . . . you’ve got to go through it. And that’s what we did. As a group, you saw everyone with their families and friends going through the Grand Final parade . . . It was great sitting next to Dimma up the front . . . It was a really nice family moment that you can embrace and remember for a long time.”

How the Grand Final panned out

“The first half was really frenetic and I was probably involved a bit more, personally, with a lot more defensive acts. And the ball transitioned the full length of the ground a bit more. That was probably where we could have lost our cool a little bit. But it was good that we stood strong and made sure that we were really calm and clear as to what we wanted to achieve . . . Then, in the second half, it was like just a steamroll effect, where our pressure just came, and we didn’t really see much of it as backs. It was great. We just pressed up the ground, set up well, turned the ball over in our forward half and Dusty (Dustin Martin) did the rest . . .” 

At the final siren

“The one thing I really do remember is seeing Dave Astbury so close to me, because we’re always in the same set-up . . . When the siren went it was just this wave of emotion over us and everyone running around frantically. I was embracing Dave and just saying how much we couldn’t believe that it happened to us.”

That special premiership feeling

“The easiest way that I can explain the feeling I have now, after the celebrations have washed down and I’m back to just being me and living my life, is just an overwhelming sense of contentment . . . In years gone by, I always was thinking to myself, I wish we had have won that game, I wish I had have played better in that game, if only the ball didn’t bounce that way. This year it doesn’t matter. We won, and that’s what’s given me the most easy sleep at night, because I haven’t regretted anything about this year . . . Every game we’ve played, whether it’s been a win or a loss, we’ve learned something . . . So every single step that we’ve had this year has been worth every single bit of pain or happiness.”

His leadership role in the drought-breaking premiership

“Coming through that drought was very satisfying . . . Coming down to the rooms (after the Grand Final), one of the first people to come and see me was (dual Richmond premiership player) Rex Hunt. He had tears in his eyes and he gripped my shoulders with his big, strong hands and said, ‘Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart. We’ve been waiting for this time for so long’. That gave me just the greatest sense of satisfaction and pride because, as a kid, I never dreamt of having a (premiership) medal, or holding a cup up. To see other people’s dreams fulfilled means more to me than the cup itself. You could see in their eyes that it meant so much to them . . . So to be a leader, and have been an instigator and a driving force behind that happiness and joy, gives me great satisfaction.”

Tight-knit Tiger backline group

“We always wanted to create a team within a team. It’s always a fine line because you don’t want to alienate yourself from the group and have an us versus them mentality. But, at the same time, you want to have that competitive edge . . . Whenever we have match play against our forwards, we take a lot of pride in that. We’re a proud bunch of men, really well led by Ben Rutten (backline coach) . . . ‘Grimesy’ (Dylan Grimes), Dave (Astbury), Nick Vlastuin, who are super leaders in their own right as well. I love the group and I love the mentality that we’ve created down there . . . We are the battlers, the blue-collar, grunt workers . . . And I’m going to make sure every kid that comes in to our backline knows what it means to be a Richmond man, and to be a Richmond backline man.”

Keeping the lid firmly on until the end

“Throughout the year I never really allowed myself to believe because there were games which really personally, and from an organisational perspective, frustrated me – the GWS game, the Fremantle game after the (final) siren, the Sydney game, where we were up by a fair bit, the Bulldogs game . . . All those games, which came down to the last couple of minutes. They really frustrated and annoyed me. So I never really wanted to allow myself to believe that we could win the premiership because, if that was taken away from me, I knew it would be horrendous. So I made sure we stuck to the process . . . Even in the Grand Final, it wasn’t until the final siren that I actually believed and thought we could win.”

Striving for the ultimate success again in 2018

“I think the game was different this year to what it was last year and the year before. It’s always getting quicker and there are always teams which are getting smarter and better . . . There’s never a time where you can go, yep, you beauty, we’ve done what we set out to do, let’s just put the feet up and see what happens next year. I think the culture that we’ve got at this club is too competitive, too proud and too hungry to just let one (premiership) be enough . . . We want more, but we know that there’s a lot of luck, hard work and mental fortitude involved in that . . .”

Impact of the Tiger Army

“I said in a media interview about the Tiger Army that in the Geelong game (qualifying final), when we walked out there, I didn’t know it wasn’t our home game. Geelong were getting booed and we were getting cheered. It was the most amazing feeling . . . We love the Tiger Army and we can’t thank them enough for the support they gave us through the Geelong game, the GWS game, and then the Grand Final . . . I’m sure they’re going to turn out in force next year, too.”