Adem Yze was wary not to disrespect those who had been involved in a key part of Richmond's history, but knew the dynasty memorabilia had to be relocated. He couldn't talk about the present and build for the future, with the past literally hanging over his head. 

The Tigers' new coach felt sick about it, but believed it was the right decision after consulting the leaders at Punt Road. Photos from the 2017, 2019 and 2020 triumphs weren't taken off the walls and put in storage to get dusty; they were relocated to a different part of the Swinburne Centre in a simple, yet telling, moment that underpins the changing of the guard.

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It has been more than three years since Richmond last went all the way. A lot has changed since then. Damien Hardwick, most significantly, has departed for Gold Coast, following a transformational period where he coached the Tigers to more wins (170) and more premierships (three) than anyone in the history of the club not named Tom Hafey. Iconic figures Trent Cotchin and Jack Riewoldt have also retired since the end of last season. 

And it is not just three seasons since that dynasty-sealing victory over Geelong at the Gabba. It is three years since the club last won a final. They lost the 2022 elimination final against Brisbane. Then they finished 13th last year – the lowest they have finished since that club-shaping season in 2016 – amid a season of upheaval. 

During the long process to appoint Hardwick's successor, Yze was honest in his appraisal of where the club was at following its most successful period ever. It was a key part of the reason why he landed the job. 

"You feel a little bit like you're disrespecting people when you ask those questions, even just asking about it. It wasn't to say, 'Are we stuck in the past?' It was just where they sat in the building. At our footy club, we've got a premiership walk and it shows all the premierships in our history. The players walk past it and can see the photos from the '70s and '80s and it lauds the past," Yze told 

"In our main meeting room, where I'm going to be presenting about the game ahead, there were three big photos from the dynasty. It is not that they don't belong in our building, it's just the wrong spot to be. It's not like I've ripped them down and thrown them in the bin, I've moved it to the history part of the building. 

"This needs to be about today. That was the only change. It wasn't like I walked around taking down photos of people who are no longer here. We've got photos in our development and academy rooms, which is great. That's our history. In that one main meeting room, it is about today. I still felt crook in the guts doing it, but the leaders were awesome about it. They thought it had been a couple of years too long anyway."

Ahead of his first season at Richmond, Yze sat down with for a wide-ranging interview covering some of the key topics at the Tigers right now:

  • Learning from the experiences of Ben Rutten and David Teague and why Chris Newman returned to Punt Road after missing out on the senior coaching gig
  • Rebuild or rebound? Taking confidence from the resurgence of Collingwood and Greater Western Sydney under Craig McRae and Adam Kingsley, as well as Hawthorn's build under Sam Mitchell
  • The return of Tom Lynch and Josh Gibcus after nightmare 2023 campaigns
  • Why Noah Balta has been transformed into a key forward
  • Jacob Hopper endured a tough first season at Punt Road, but the former Greater Western Sydney midfielder is fully fit and like a fresh recruit
  • Sam Naismith is primed to play in the AFL again, four years after a horror injury run at Sydney ended his time at the Swans

Yze served a long apprenticeship before finally securing the shot at Richmond after missing out on roles at Essendon and Greater Western Sydney. He spent nine seasons at Hawthorn, starting as a part-time coach under Alastair Clarkson in 2012 before taking over the backline from Luke Beveridge in 2014 when he headed to St Kilda, briefly, and then the Western Bulldogs. He moved to Melbourne – the club he played 271 games for – ahead of 2021 and spent the past three seasons coaching the midfield under Simon Goodwin. 

The 46-year-old has settled into life at Punt Road, leaning on not only former senior coaches Ben Rutten and David Teague for guidance, but also experienced administrators in the form of CEO Brendon Gale, GM football performance Tim Livingstone and GM football talent Blair Hartley. 

"I've loved it. It has been an amazing opportunity. You've got to pinch yourself when you first get the opportunity. I've been so lucky that I've got some amazing people in really important positions at the footy club – Tim Livingstone, Blair Hartley and Brendon Gale – the way they've helped me manage my first few months and touching base to make sure I'm not doing too much," he said. 

"I thought I might be overwhelmed by how much work I had to do, but the luxury of having Ben Rutten and David Teague and Chris Newman, being able to lean on them and let them do their thing. I really value making sure our coaches feel valued and feel like they're having real influence on the way we're playing and the connection with our players. As a line coach, I wanted to have an impact every day, but you can't do that if you don't have the floor."

Despite missing out on the senior coaching position after going through the process, former captain Chris Newman chose to return to Richmond as an assistant coach. Yze became tight with Newman during their time together at Waverley Park and wanted the Tigers' Hall of Fame member to join him after eight years at Hawthorn.

"It is a funny one. He reached out when he found out he wasn't going to the next stage – and that was right at the pointy end – because we're mates, we've been catching up for the last three years since we coached together at the Hawks and our connection was lasting. He has an amazing family and is an amazing person, so when he rang and reached out to wish me good luck on the next stage, I told him I had already flagged his name in my presentation as someone that I would look to try and get across," Yze said.

"It was two-fold: I love him as a person, he is a great coach; but I know what it felt like walking into your old footy club as a line coach. He was at the same point in his career as when I went to Melbourne after nine years at Hawthorn. I needed a change. I knew what it did to me, and I was hoping I could convince him to do the same. 

"The funny thing is I'm really close with Sam Mitchell as well. We had been out for dinner a few months earlier with our wives and he was messaging me the minute I got 'Newy', saying I've stolen one of the best. It wasn't an awkward thing, it was respect; I respect him as a mate and as a coach, knowing the impact he can have on our playing list. It has been amazing having him here."

Former Richmond assistant coaches Craig McRae and Adam Kingsley have both zoomed Collingwood and Greater Western Sydney back up the ladder after landing their first gigs in the hot seat. McRae has won 38 of 51 games, including the one that mattered most in 2023 after being named coach of the year in 2022. Kingsley received that honour last year after leading the Giants to a preliminary final in his first season. 

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The instant success of McRae and Kingsley has provided a blueprint of how fortunes can evolve swiftly with a fresh voice and new ideas. Yze also sees parallels at Waverley Park, where Sam Mitchell has been tasked with rebuilding Hawthorn from the ground up after Alastair Clarkson's brilliant tenure ran its course. 

"You obviously get some confidence from other clubs doing that, but at the same time, I look at Sam Mitchell and look what he's going through in this rebuild process and can see both sides. All I'm confident about is if you have a strong enough list, you can be competitive. We have already started the regeneration of the list with some old superstars finishing now. We've been in that process for a few years," he said.

"I just feel like my job is to make sure the players we've got here really feel like they can get better every day and can compete. There is no ceiling on where we can finish. I do feel confident watching other teams being able to bounce back. It is a close competition and you want to feel like you can bounce back quickly."

The availability of star key forward Tom Lynch will be crucial for Yze in his first season with the All-Australian spearhead ruled out of Opening Round but aiming to return against Carlton five days later, following a long rehabilitation block after breaking his foot in round four last year. 

With Riewoldt calling time on his decorated career after 347 games (second most behind Kevin Bartlett for Richmond) and 787 goals (third most behind Jack Titus and Matthew Richardson), Yze has transformed key defender Noah Balta into a key forward across the summer and is confident the Calder Cannons product can excel at the other end of the ground. 

"I just see some pure attributes with Noah that is something we are missing. We have a young forward line and 'Lynchy' has shouldered a lot of the load. Noah is a powerful athlete. If you play in deep defence, you play high game time, but that is not what his make-up is. He needs to get off the ground and rotate more, so by shifting him we can get the best out of him," he said.

"He has embraced it and his leadership is starting to shine, knowing that he has some young kids around him. He played well on Steven May – I know it's only a practice game – but he is one of the best defenders in the game. That should give him confidence. I'm hoping that we are putting him in a position where he can shine."


Balta kicked three goals against Melbourne in match simulation at Casey Fields earlier this month and will remain in attack unless an injury crisis down back inflicts the club. Josh Gibcus is a key part of that plan with the young key defender back to full fitness after a nightmare injury run. 

After missing all of 2023 due to a complex hamstring injury that required him to visit a leading sports medicine facility in Doha in search of answers, the 2022 No.9 pick played some minutes against the Demons and will play against Collingwood at Ikon Park on Tuesday night. 

"We are really trusting that Josh can get a full season out so we can keep Noah forward. So far so good. He has been building really nicely, ticking every box. He showed a little bit on the weekend. He is a really driven kid and we love that about him," he said.

"Right now, it is great that we can review his game knowing it's not about just getting through, you are now in the mode of playing, reviewing, recovering and playing again. He is that driven to play well, so when you can't do that, it was just killing him. For his mind to be free of that has been a blessing."

Richmond added Jacob Koschitzke during the Trade Period to bolster its forward stocks, before signing Sam Naismith as a delisted free agent to provide some coverage behind Toby Nankervis. With the captain dealing with plantar fasciitis, the former Swan is in the frame to play his first AFL game since 2020 in the Opening Round clash against Gold Coast.


The Tigers were big players in the 2022 Trade Period, luring gun midfielders Tim Taranto and Jacob Hopper across from Greater Western Sydney on seven-year deals that cost three first-round picks. Taranto dazzled in his first season, winning the Jack Dyer Medal and polling 19 Brownlow Medal votes. 

Hopper was limited to 16 games and didn't reach the same heights due to lingering injury issues, some that were never made public, but Yze views the now fully fit 27-year-old as almost a fresh recruit, following a full summer that hasn't drawn anywhere near as much attention as the previous one. 


"Now knowing what he went through with his toe issue and foot issue and ankle, he had so many things going on, so to be able to perform at the level he was, albeit not at the level he wanted to, you could still see he was a dangerous midfielder and a really powerful one. I've only seen the Jacob Hopper from this pre-season and it has been someone who can back up and really show what he is capable of," he said.

"To be fair, going through that whole process of being traded and not being able to perform, there is a lot of pressure on these kids. He knows what the club paid to get him over here. seeing one of his best mates win a best and fairest, things like that weigh on you. I'm adamant that a fit Jacob Hopper is a very quality AFL player. The sky is the limit for him. I can't wait to see what he produces."