Reece Conca staked his claims as a replacement for suspended premiership defender Nathan Broad with an impressive display in Richmond’s decisive JLT Community Series win against Essendon at Wangaratta last Saturday.

Broad’s suspension for the opening three rounds of the 2018 home-and-away season has provided an opportunity in the Tigers’ senior side for Conca, who is on the comeback trail from another injury-interrupted year in 2017.

Conca had 15 disposals, including nine contested possessions, an equal game-high eight intercepts, 354 metres gained, and moved smoothly throughout in his role across the backline.

Richmond coach Damien Hardwick rated Conca’s performance highly.

“I thought Reece Conca was very good today,” Hardwick said at his post-match press conference.

“He showed us that when he plays he’s a really valuable player.

“He’s had an injury history that’s probably hampered his development somewhat, but we’re really confident that when he gets on the park he’s a really good player for us.”