As Richmond’s VFLW season wraps up, coach Tom Hunter says he is “incredibly proud” of what his side was able to produce in 2019.
The Tigers suffered a heartbreaking finals exit on Sunday, going down to the Western Bulldogs by five points in an elimination final at Adcon Stadium.
Despite the loss, it was a breakthrough season for the Tigers, who advanced from 12th on the ladder in their maiden season to fourth this year.
“The girls played a really great brand of footy, all throughout the year,” Hunter said.
“It felt like it was a really long (pre-season) from November to May, but the girls really enjoyed wanting to be around the club and wanting to learn, so the learnings we put in place then helped us achieve improved wins and losses throughout the year, on the back of the foundations of our first year in 2018.
“I’m incredibly proud of the outcome, and more so about the way we got there.”
It was a fairytale start to 2019 for the Tigers, who kicked off the season with six straight wins.
“I think (the start to the season) cemented what we did in the pre-season. The way we play and the things we changed in the off-season to get the results on the scoreboard, has shown we’re on the right track,” Hunter said.
In a season filled with countless highlights, Hunter said the Round 6 trip to Darwin, stamped with a win over NT Thunder, was a weekend to remember.
“To travel up there with the group away from our normal environment and spend more time together, that was really special,” he said.
“We were 19 points down at one stage and we came back and kicked a few goals, and on the back of losing a few players through injury.
“They’re the wins that really galvanise the group and brought us a little bit closer together, it was a really special couple of days away.”
With the VFLW season now concluded, Richmond Women's shifts its attention towards its inaugural AFLW season.
“The excitement and the anticipation that the women’s program has put in place for AFLW is incredible,” Hunter said.
“We’re really looking forward to that next chapter of our women’s program.
"And I hope the Tiger Army are as well, because we want to be Richmond, we want to play like a Richmond brand of footy and want people to come enjoy watching the way we play as well.”
Hunter said the experience of Sunday’s elimination final will be invaluable preparation for AFLW.
“The jump from VFLW normal season to the VFLW finals was massive. Our girls felt like there was a lot more pressure, they had a lot less time,” Hunter said.
“We know that’s what it’s going to be like at AFLW level. It’s going to be even quicker and an even bigger contest…to get experience of a VFLW final in preparation for AFLW is great preparation.”
The NAB AFLW draft will take place on Tuesday, October 22 from 10.30am at Melbourne Showgrounds. The nomination period opened on Monday and will run until Friday, September 20.
Richmond, along with fellow expansion clubs Gold Coast, St Kilda and West Coast, had until last Friday to sign up to seven players from their Academies or state league sides.
In a recently introduced rule, clubs have the opportunity to bid for additional Academy players before the draft.
Draft Nominations Open
Monday, September 2 – Friday, September 20
NAB AFLW Draft Combine
Tuesday, October 1 – Thursday, October 4 at the MCG & Margaret Court Arena, Melbourne
NAB AFLW Draft
Tuesday, October 22