We continue our special post-season series revealing the thoughts of Richmond’s latest premiership heroes on that wonderful one day in September 2019. Today, All Australian defender Dylan Grimes opens up about the glorious triumph.

Losing Alex Rance to injury in Round 1

“It was probably my most challenging year to date because I had to learn to completely adjust my game after 'Rancey' went down. To see one of my best mates go out injured, and such a key player for the side, I was struck with ‘how are we going to recover from this?’ This is arguably the best player to play in the modern era as a key position player and I’m playing next to him and now he’s gone.”

Connecting as a backline unit in Rance’s absence

“It took six or eight weeks for us to really start to connect again as a backline unit and we had so many injuries through that time...Things weren’t really clicking (initially) and I was struggling with the extra load. I was trying to play exactly as Rancey does, which is that extra vocal, he’s an amazing leader and at every stoppage he’s the loudest guy on the field…It took me a while to realise that I had to bring my own style of leadership.”

Individual growth of the Tigers

“We had so many leaders step up. Shane (Edwards) captaining the side...and Dusty (Martin) captained the side…Having Rance out, (Trent) Cotchin out at various stages and Jack Riewoldt out, forced other players to step up and grow. I felt like that was part of the game that I was most proud of, that I was one of those players that did try and grow and learn new things. We got the opportunity to blood some really exciting young players like Sydney Stack, Bakes (Liam Baker), Jack Ross and finally Marlion Pickett right at the end. I think that will hold the club in really good stead going forward.”

The significance of the 2019 premiership 

“In 2017…we hadn’t yet won a final in my time at the Club, we’d played in four finals series and fallen out the first week. In 2017, we were elated just to win week one and then we went on and won week (three) and the journey was this constant…feeling of euphoria of winning and winning and winning…This year was more satisfaction because we’d won the hard way. To fight through the injuries we had, so many leaders not playing, a form slump and criticism, I love that this year was very Richmond-like in that we had to fight really hard to be in the position that we were. To see us go all the way and perform well across all finals, and we were challenged really hard by some good teams...to finally get the result at the end of it, and do it in such a way...was really satisfaction to the max.”

Rance’s selflessness

“You’d forgive someone for going into their shell and feeling a bit of self-pity…but you didn’t get one sense of that at all, the whole year. Even his decision to not come back…For him to do that was the utmost sacrifice because the reason why he didn’t return to play was because he felt it would be too much of a distraction for the playing group if something were to go wrong…That level of selflessness when the team was going so well is just astronomical.” 

At the final siren

“(Rance) was one of the first guys I looked for because he mentored and coached me closer this year than any other year. Selfishly, it was probably the best thing for my personal development, having him there in my corner as a coach…I’ve had the benefit of being able to learn off him as a player, but this year, to be able to learn off him as a coach was amazing.”