Star Richmond forward Jack Riewoldt believes the club has grown stronger and closer after overcoming a series of controversies this year.
The Tigers have the chance to cement themselves as one of the great modern-day teams when they take on Geelong in Saturday’s AFL Grand Final.
Richmond won the flag in 2017 and 2019, but their run to this year’s Grand Final has been far from smooth due to a long list of controversies.
The most notable off-field distraction came when Sydney Stack and Callum Coleman-Jones were slapped with 10-match bans for breaking COVID-19 protocols and getting involved in a fight outside a strip club.
The Tigers also hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons when vision emerged of inappropriate touching between players during team songs.
Tom Lynch’s perceived cheap shots on the field have also been a big talking point, with Richmond accused of being arrogant in the manner in which they’ve conducted themselves this year.
Riewoldt says he’s proud of the way the players have banded together in the hub and overcome the numerous controversies.
“Obviously we had a couple of hiccups over the year, some a little bit more sinister than others. Some of them have been trivial, I feel,” Riewoldt told AFL 360.
“But we’ve dealt with those little speed humps as we’ve gone, and we’ve grown. I feel like we’ve come out of those events as a better club.
“We’ve probably lived a little bit of a different journey than a lot of other clubs, a lot of that has been the fault of our own.
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“But we’ve grown as a group, we’ve grown as a club, and we’ve really stuck together, which I think has probably been the one thing that has kept us going.”
Geelong forward Tom Hawkins was told to stay away from teammates on Tuesday after becoming ill, and Riewoldt has more reason than most to hope it’s nothing serious.
“I got a bit worried because I got up and heard the Tomahawk was in quarantine, and I was standing in the pool with him a mere 24 hours beforehand having a chat with him and watching our girls swim,” Riewoldt said.
The nature of hub life means Geelong and Richmond players will be bumping into each other daily in the lead-up to the Grand Final.