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Gaspar backs Rance

Former Richmond star full-back, Darren Gaspar, has sung the praises of young Tiger key defender Alex Rance. 

Gaspar, who had a decorated career with the Tigers from 1996-07, playing 207 games, winning the Jack Dyer Medal in 2001, and earning All-Australian selection on two occasions, believes Rance has what it takes to develop into a valuable, long-term league defender.

“He really caught my eye in the game against Brisbane (Round 13) when he was playing on Jonathon Brown.  He did a great job that night, consistently beating Brown in the one-on-one contests,” Gaspar said.

“Then, on the weekend (against West Coast), in a side that was getting pretty well beaten all over the field, he was really competitive.

“It’s a tough gig playing in a key-defensive post in a young side which is still developing, but I thought he showed some very good signs, especially with his attack on the footy.  He’s also pretty fast, his ball use is good enough, and he’s courageous. 

“So, he’s got all the attributes of a solid key defender, which is a real plus for Richmond because it’s so important to have someone capable of holding down a key defensive post.”

Rance, 21, has played 15 games with the Tigers this season to take his overall AFL games’ tally to 40, since making his debut in 2009.  He is averaging nearly 19 disposals per game this season in his full-back role.

Gaspar, who these days lives in his home state Western Australia, and is a part-time special comments man for radio station SEN, was a keen observer at Richmond’s Round 20 clash with the West Coast Eagles at Subiaco.
Notwithstanding the final margin, he is confident the Tigers are on the right track . . .   
“The big difference between the West Coast Eagles and Richmond is that West Coast had a whole bunch of senior players, who were either injured or out of form last year, but are up and firing this season.  Richmond just doesn’t have that depth of experience at the moment,” he said.

“It’s going to take time, but I think they have the right structures in place now to really build on, which is pleasing.

“The one area I noticed on the weekend where they fell down was the missed tackles, which basically comes down to the size of the bodies. 

“Last year, a lot of West Coast’s senior players were out, and missed tackles were happening left, right and centre.  But with another pre-season under their belts, the young Eagle players are just a bit stronger, a bit more aggressive with their tackles. 

“Richmond is a year behind that.  Next year the tackles will start sticking and they’ll become more competitive, especially around this time of year when everyone gets tired. 

“Through the middle of the ground, if you’re missing those tackles at this time of the year, it just opens up a path through the forward line and you can’t do much about it.  The defenders can’t read the ball, they don’t know where it’s coming from.  Whereas, if those tackles stick, it makes the world of difference. “ 
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