Richmond co vice-captain Jack Riewoldt has expressed immense pride with how the Tigers’ fleet of lively, young, small forwards have performed in the early rounds of the 2017 season.

The pace, energy, intense defensive pressure and goal sense of Daniel Rioli, Dan Butler and Jason Castagna, has been a significant factor in Richmond’s three wins from three games so far.

They kicked four goals between them (out of a team total of 11) in last Saturday’s spirited 11-point win against West Coast at the MCG and were a constant threat to the highly-fancied visitors.

Riewoldt, as the experienced leader of the Tigers’ attack, is thrilled with the efforts of his protégés.

“Our small forwards are very young, so sometimes we ask them to play out of their weight bracket, but they’ve really stood up,” Riewoldt told ‘ABC Grandstand’ post-match.

“They’re tough, little buggers but I love them for it . . .

“It’s an absolute pleasure to play with them the way they embrace the bigger bodies.

“Certainly, in those late (wet) conditions there (at the MCG last Saturday), they put their bodies on the line, and we were able to finish off the work with a few goals late.”

Riewoldt believes there was a silver lining in Richmond’s disappointing finish to the 2016 season with respect to the development of the Club’s department of youth.

“We copped a few pretty shocking results towards the back end of last year, but what we were able to do is play a few kids,” he said.

“I know they played in some tough losses, but they actually learned a bit . . .

“It’s good to give kids a bit of a taste of where they can get to and what it’s like playing on the big stage. And I think we’ve started to reap the benefits of that. We’re a better club for it.”