Assistant coach Sam Lonergan speaks to Richmond Media about the current state of his midfield line six rounds into the 2021 season in the latest edition of Coaches Corner.
Midfield group's start to the year
“There has been some ups and downs for win/loss, but from a development point of view with the guys in there (the midfield), we have seen some great growth.
“Jack Graham has had some outstanding games this year, in particular in Round 1 (v Carlton) and against St Kilda as well, where he hit the scoreboard.
“We are going OK in there. It is hard work (because) there are some really good midfields in the competition, but our boys are holding up really good and in a positive space.”
“We are certainly working hard on our stoppage craft. We have got some young guys in that position; we have seen Jack Ross a couple of times as the sub who has had some opportunities in there.
“The stoppage stuff is a smaller part of the game because stoppages have reduced significantly this season, but certainly, we need to make sure we are ticking off the body craft in that part of the ground.”
“He has been fantastic; Shai brings exactly what we think he is going to bring; he is a livewire in terms of his explosive speed and ability to get in and out of traffic, and he is a very good decision maker with ball in hand.
“Generally, if he has got it coming out of there (a stoppage), we are a fair chance of scoring.”
“Shane creates a lot of opportunities through his use of hands and his ability to see the lateral option. He has been able to see it for a long period of time in his career. Once you can create that overlap (and the) off the line type of hands movement, then it generally opens up some opportunities for the forwards to get on the end of it.”
Marlion Pickett’s versatility
“I thoroughly enjoyed last week the off-hand hit over Max Gawn at the centre bounce, which is extremely hard to do.
“He has given us a mix of what we can go to at particular parts of the game. Whether we use it all year, we will wait and see, but we certainly know that we have got that option.
“He has got that opportunity when it hits the ground to be an extra mid for us and can explode and use his natural grunt around the contest (as well), which is really sharp.
“He is, without doubt, one of our stronger runners in the group; the work the guys do, whether it is Marlion or Kamdyn McIntosh on the wing, is just exceptional, they cover mass amounts of ground, and certainly on the weekend, Marlion saved us a couple of times.
“He was unlucky with a couple where they ended up kicking the goal on the goal line, but his work rate is incredible, and he is a fantastic person. We know that he is always going to get back and support the defence and give it his all.”
“He is a big inside mid, so (it is) great opportunity for him against Western Bulldogs who have fantastic midfielders who like to test a tackle and try and use their shape of hands around the contest. He will bring intensity around the contest and that ability to step in and burst through some tackles and packs.
“It is exciting (because) he has been working really hard. He has lost probably five and a half kilos this off-season, so he has gone to work and improved significantly in parts of his game he was challenged in last year, and he is getting the reward for it now which is exciting.
“I did a lot of work with Riley last year in the hub, and it is a special one to see him breakthrough.”