We take a look back to when rising Richmond star Trent Cotchin sat down with ‘The Australian’ football writer Malcolm Conn for an interview in which he spoke about his development as a young leader at the Club, and expressed belief that the Tigers were on the right track in their quest for sustained success under new coach Damien Hardwick. With Cotchin today standing down as the Club's most successful captain, it makes for a fascinating reflection . . .
Blossoming Richmond midfielder Trent Cotchin knows all about uphill battles.
It's not just that the Tigers face another year on the bottom.
He has been dogged by achilles problems since arriving at Punt Road and has been forced to push cars owned by the club’s conditioning staff up an incline in adjoining Yarra Park.
“I started off pushing a little car and finished up pushing a station wagon,” Cotchin told ‘The Weekend Australian’.
Cotchin is hoping that his progression of vehicle will be a metaphor, that the small steps the Tigers take now will lead to big things in the future . . .
If Richmond is to have a bright future then Cotchin must be central to it, possibly even as captain.
His potential as a leader as well as a player was highlighted even before he turned 20 last month, when his teammates voted Cotchin into the club’s leadership group at the start of the season.
“To be voted in by the whole playing group, that's a nice feeling for you to represent them,” he said.
“It's put a big weight on my shoulders, but it's always been a goal to be a leader of any football club that I'm a part of. But it's up to everyone to stand up and play a leadership role.”
Leadership is something Cotchin has been exposed to since he walked into Richmond three years ago.
Given his parents had a farm just north of Melbourne and Cotchin was too young to drive, he moved in with then captain Kane Johnson for a fortnight to find his feet, and stayed 18 months.
“Obviously you couldn't find a better bloke and a better opportunity to learn than living with the captain of the football club,” Cotchin said.
“He had genuine care for the young guys and what they were doing.
"I couldn't have asked for a better experience and introduction to the AFL really.
“He was one of the best and most professional at the club.”
After more than two decades of failure, self-destruction and dreadful drafting, Cotchin appears to be proof that the Tigers may indeed be starting to get things right.
He was taken second in the 2007 draft behind Carlton's Matthew Kreuzer.
They have been best mates since playing for Victorian Primary Schools together when Cotchin was 11.
And their parents became such good mates that the Kreuzers now have a cabin in the same Echuca park where the Cotchins have been staying for more than two decades to go water skiing on the Murray River.
Anyone who has seen Cotchin's strength, poise and balance when tackled will understand that he became a good barefoot water skier, although he claims it's nothing to boast about.
At 12, he began learning from multiple world barefoot skiing champion Brett Sands, who has a ski school at Echuca.
“I started washing his boat every night and every 12 washes I got a free lesson,” Cotchin recalled. “Now we catch up every chance we get.”
Cotchin had the chance to bail out with an offer from the Gold Coast, which begins as the AFL’s 17th club next season, but instead signed a four-year deal with the Tigers.
“It's really helped having a whole new structure brought in this year (under new coach Damien Hardwick),” he said.
“We are a young group as everyone keeps saying.
“I could see there is a plan and I really believe in it. We'll be going upward and I think it's the right place to be. I'm young and if we can stick together as a group it will be nice to enjoy success once we get through the tough times.
“It's a fresh start, the average age is just over 20, there are 18 or 19 guys younger then myself and I’m just 20.”