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Grigg a Tiger hero forever

Grigg announces retirement Shaun Grigg announces his retirement to the playing group.

At the end of the 2012 season, I took on the assignment of ranking the top 20 Richmond trade pick-ups that I’d seen during my time as a Yellow and Black barracker.

Back then, Shaun Grigg had played just two seasons with the Tigers after being traded by Carlton, where he’d played 43 games.

Despite that short stint at Tigerland, I slotted Grigg in at No. 18 on the list.

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He’d averaged 22 disposals per match in 21 games during his debut season for Richmond and finished a creditable 10th in the Jack Dyer Medal.

The following year, Grigg took his game to an even higher level, playing every game, averaging 25.5 disposals per match, kicking what turned out to be an AFL career-high 18 goals, polling an AFL career-high 11 Brownlow Medal votes, and being placed fifth in the Club’s Best and Fairest award.

My final paragraph in that article on Shaun Grigg was: “If Grigg can maintain his current form level (or go up another cog), it’s reasonable to assume that when the next list of top Tiger trade pick-ups is compiled, he’ll figure a fair bit higher.”

Seven years on, with Grigg having now announced his playing retirement from AFL football because of persistent knee and hip injuries, I believe he’s moved up to be comfortably inside the top 10 on that list of the top 20 Tiger trade pick-ups.

That’s no mean feat, when you consider those at the pointy end of the list – the likes of Ian Stewart, Barry Rowlings, Paul Sproule, Paul Broderick, Robert McGhie and Wayne Walsh.

Furthermore, I would rate Richmond’s trade deal with Carlton for Grigg – securing him in exchange for young player Andrew Collins – as right up there as one of the best the Club has ever done.

It was a huge win for the Tigers, with Grigg going on to play 171 games in the Yellow and Black, while Collins managed just 11 as a Blue.

That total of 171 games by Grigg also happens to be the most by any player in Richmond’s history wearing the No. 6 guernsey.

Grigg was a model of consistency right throughout his time at Tigerland.

He averaged 22.3 disposals per match with Richmond and filled several important on-field roles along the way, including second ruckman in the Tigers’ 2017 premiership year.

Despite being considerably undersized for that task, he attacked it with his trademark selflessness, determination and football ‘smarts’.

Consequently, he was able to provide the team’s No. 1 ruckman Toby Nankervis with valuable back-up.

As a midfielder, Grigg’s ability to spread from stoppages, find space, and propel the ball inside the Tigers’ forward-50 area on his left boot, made him such a key member of the line-up.

While the focus outside Punt Road always appeared to be trained on the ‘Fab Four’ – Trent Cotchin, Jack Riewoldt, Alex Rance and Dustin Martin, as well as several other top-line Tigers – within the four walls at the Club, Shaun Grigg was held in the highest regard.

Richmond coach Damien Hardwick paid a glowing tribute to Grigg in his weekly press conference yesterday (Friday).

“He's always a team-first player, Shaun,” Hardwick said.

“Look at when he first came into the footy club, and he's a big part of the reason we're at a place where we are now.

“He's been so important to the fabric of our club . . .

“It's going to be a big loss, not only on-field because he's incredibly smart, but just his ability to bring the Club together off-field, is incredibly important.

“The funny thing about Shaun is he's an incredible player who's played over 200 games, but he's one of the smartest coaches in waiting I've ever seen.

“I'm not sure if he's going to go down that path, but he's got an incredible ability to see what's happening on the field and translate it to the players and coaching staff as well.

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“I think he's only scratching the surface with his career.”

Whatever Shaun Grigg does career-wise in the future, he’ll always be fondly remembered by the Tiger Army for the valuable contribution he made to Richmond’s glorious, drought-breaking 2017 premiership triumph.

His name is etched eternally in the annals of Tigerland as a premiership player.

Well done, ‘Grigga’, and thank you.