Richmond coach Damien Hardwick spoke to the media after the game…
Q: Obviously the team’s probably a long way short of your first 22 on paper. But how are you seeing the way the guys are getting it done at the moment?
A: Gelling together. It was going to take a bit of time with the five players that went out of the side. We will see some growth in players emerging into some roles so that was promising for us. Played and moved the ball a lot better this week as compared to last week. There’s a lot of positive things to come out of the game. We certainly have some work to do in a couple of other areas. North are a side that are in a development-type phase with the way they’re going as well. It was an interesting challenge for both sides, probably evenly placed with experience and I thought our boys played our system pretty well tonight which is a positive. It was pretty even. It wasn’t a standout player but everyone seemed to play their role well. Which is what we spoke about. The system that we play provides the platforms for the players to use their strengths. We saw at numerous stages the players stand up and fulfil their roles they’re here for. As you said, we didn’t have a real stand-out player as such but I thought our consistency across our playing group was high tonight.
Q: Coming out of the gate, it seems intent in the physicality and the body language was that they meant business tonight. Was that a response to last week, do you think?
A: A little bit. When we are at our very best, that is the way we play. We step in early and we probably have been OK at it this year but we started to ramp it up a bit and obviously it was great to have some fans there again tonight. Richmond people turn up, it’s great. So the noise they make is quite inspiring to the players and they love playing to any form of crowd. So thanks to the Queensland Government for providing us with a place to play.
Q: Did you see the ball playing progress tonight?
A: Yeah, we did. There is going to be a lag on that. There are some areas still to improve. I spoke about a number of things with strategies with place and we certainly use the ball a little bit better. I am not sure how many marks we had inside 50 but I thought we dominated the inside-50 count but didn’t capitalise as well as I would like. We missed a few goals but so did North. Goalkicking will probably be on the menu this week.
Q: The hamstring for [Josh] Caddy it looked quite sore.
A: I am not sure. It took a while for him to get off the ground which suggests it’s significant. We will get scans tomorrow or the day after and assess that as we go. He probably won’t play for a couple of weeks.
Q: How are the other guys tracking in terms of coming back?
A: Trent [Cotchin] had a good session this today. But he probably, with his history, we won’t play him versus GWS [next week]. [David] Astbury will be available, and he trained well today. So those players also come back into calculations and it’s at least another two to three weeks I would say at this stage.
Q: How are you seeing your progress? You seem like you’re stuttering through the season, and then you’re in fourth spot.
A: Yeah, it’s funny. Like I said, we’ve been playing OK in spits and spurts. But the things that we measure from a template point of view have all been strong. There’s been some areas of our game, like our inside 50, hasn’t been what we would like but it is the hardest footy to kick. We look at our indicators and it’s all been positive. We are indicating we are playing the right way. So we’re going OK. But we can certainly play, I think, a hell of a lot better.
Q: What about two of the younger guys who seemed to have stepped up tonight – Derek Eggmolesse-Smith and Mabior Chol?
A: They’re both very exciting players. ‘Mabs’ we have seen before. He’s been in the system for
five years now and he does something every year to improve. He can mark above his head and marks the ground well for someone who is six-foot-seven. And Derek has got the ability to play the game. He can use the ball really well, can find the ball really well. He’s just got to find his way in the AFL system. That is a positive of us as a footy club, we embrace those guys who can play and we’re starting to see a little bit of that. He’s still got a long way to go but he is showing some signs. With [Dion] Prestia and Cotchin, he gets a tight tag. We have a relatively inexperienced group. It’s fantastic to see Shai Bolton go through there. He had 10 contested possessions and five clearances: He just has to get fit and play that role. He starts off really well and then dies off a bit. He wins the ball really well in and around contests. We have felt he was a midfielder but we haven’t had the opportunity to put him in. I wouldn’t say it’s the great thing about injuries but it gives opportunities to different players.
Q: Martin gets off the ball, that was a tight physical tag [from Luke McDonald].
A: Yeah, look, I probably – I probably can’t say … Just one week out of the media would be good. Look, guys play by the rules, it’s fine. He still kicks two goals. That’s the thing. Dustin’s work around stoppage tonight and a lot of people won’t see it. He created two-v-ones. That is the sign of a leader. That is how far this kid his come in his football career. It is not about him. He just loves that W at the end of the night.
Another one of Richmond’s star players from tonight was the exciting Mabior Chol and he also spoke to Channel Seven after the game…
Q: You were superb. You looked so comfortable at the level and you’re starting to get some continuity into your footy.
A: I am really enjoying my time in the senior level at moment. A couple of games under my belt in a row is building my confidence. I just got to keep showing Richmond that faith they’ve given me so far.
Q: I understand you moved to Queensland at the age of eight and you might have had about 22 tickets you required for the game last week so you got some family and fans in that part of the world.
A: Yeah, I do. Obviously growing up in Brisbane, and, last week worked perfectly, just asking the AFL for 22 tickets that they were giving to Richmond so I took all of it! So I didn’t let the other boys have tickets. It was awesome to have my family support there. I loved it and it was great to get the win even though it was bad weather last week.
Q: You are playing a dual role at the moment in the ruck and forward. In a perfect world, are you a forward or do you think you can establish yourself in the ruck?
A: Geez, I don’t know how to answer that yet. I do enjoy playing in the ruck. Trying to use my speed and agility around the ball. I am trying to play my role, so if it’s forward or ruck I just try to give all I got.
Q: The thing that interests us is that hair-do, mate – that red stripe is jumping out at us on the screen. Tell us about that.
A: Last hair style I had was a whitish blonde type so I wanted to change it up and obviously I’m a big soccer fan and a big fan of Paul Pogba so he gave me the idea with the red hair and the boys wanted me to go red. It worked out fine. So I’m loving it.
Q: Tell us about the growth project. You are doing some work with the Sudanese community in Melbourne. What sort of activities are you putting together with that project?
A: Yeah, I mean, before all the virus started happening I just – every Monday normally like to go visit a few South Sudanese kids, trying to be more of a role model towards them. There was a few bad news going around about Sudanese kids. So I was just having – playing AFL, just wanted to be more of a role model towards my community and just trying to give back as well.
Q: Tell us about the reaction you get. I spoke at the top about Majak Daw and Aliir Aliir and yourself. When you see the Sudanese kids, are they desperate to play footy? Is that starting to work its way through the young kids?
A: All of them are thinking they want to be the next LeBron James but no-one has said they want to be the next Mabior Chol. Hopefully I change that. They are a great bunch of kids. A lot of them are more basketball fans but still it’s good to talk about different sports other than footy.
Q: You must be rapt to see some of your close mates at the club like Derek Eggmolesse-Smith play really well.
A: Derek has been unbelievable since he came into the side. Bachar [Houli] is a big loss. And ‘Eggy’ has been playing his role. Before the game, [coach] ‘Dimma’ [Hardwick] told him he wanted to get the ball in his hand and keep using his left foot because he is a beautiful kick.
Derek Eggmolesse-Smith was one of Richmond’s best and the young star spoke to Channel Seven…
Q: I thought the team were magnificent but your own composure with the ball exiting defensive 50. That is obviously a big part of the role for you tonight?
A: Yes, definitely. I think just the coaches and the players just wanted me to play my role and just fit in with the attack and take it on a bit more and play to my strengths. That’s what I’ve pretty much been doing the whole game.
Q: Would you say you’ve taken Bachar [Houli]’s spot?
A: Bachar is not here because of family reasons and other reasons so it’s me just stepping up to the plate to take over Bachar’s role.
Q: You got your opportunity at Richmond through the Next Generation Indigenous Academy. That must have been a thrill for you to, firstly come down and go through the academy.
A: Yeah, it was a great opportunity. Richmond had faith in me, pretty much. Taught me everything that I am right now, pretty much. Grew me up. Learnt me a lot along the way.
Q: Who tucked you under their wing, Derek, when you first got down to the famous Punt Road. Who said, “Come with me, young man?”
A: We call it the brother boys, Daniel [Rioli], [Jack] Riewoldt, [Shai] Bolton, they took me under their wing and showed me the ropes.
Q: You probably get a little bit bored at times in the hub. Who keeps the lads entertained? Is it [Mabior] Chol?
A: Mainly all of us. We get together, have a game on the PS4. We have a go at NBA2K and we verse each other which is a good bonding session.
Q: Do you run into the other club’s players or are you stuck in your own group?
A: We’re stuck together in our own hub which is good for us and our families when they come to see us or we go to see them.
Jack Riewoldt spoke to ABC Grandstand after the game…
Here’s some of the reaction to tonight’s game on social media…
Marlion Pickett also joined Channel Seven after the game…
Q: Well done, mate. Great win tonight.
A: It was a good win. Good team effort. And, yeah, just enjoying playing footy.
Q: How about that crowd. The Richmond supporters are everywhere.
A: They love Richmond. We love our supporters. So, yeah, it’s good for them to get out and watch our footy.
Q: How are you enjoying more time the in the midfield?
A: It’s good it gives us young fellas a proper run.
Q: How are you adjusting to the hub up here in Queensland?
A: My family came up yesterday, so they’re in quarantine at the moment. Yeah, no, enjoying being away from Melbourne.
Dylan Grimes was impressive tonight for Richmond and he joined Channel Seven after the game…
Q: A brilliant win, a bit more exciting.
A: Yeah, it was good to see a few more goals, it’s been building. Regardless of the result it was great to play.
Q: Young midfield, had some injuries, they still stood up tonight?
A: It’s one of the better things we’ve been able to draw on in the last few years with some weeks with some injuries but every player has stepped up, which is great. Really happy for those boys to come in.
Q: You’ve got to be proud with how your defensive unit works together. You’re all playing as one.
A: It’s a good little connect that we’ve got going. A few new faces down there with [Shai] Bolton and Derek [Eggmolesse-Smith]. I am looking forward to getting Bachar Houli back but I am proud of the boys for grinding it out. Bolton was great: We call him the race horse because he is all effort and he brought that tonight. We earmarked him to play on Brown earlier in the week.
It was a Richmond domination from go to woe as they ended up winning the inside 50s 51-28, marks 89-62, tackles 48-41 and scoring shots 22-13.
North finished on top in disposals 308-301, clearances 32-20, contested possessions 111-90, free kicks 18-11 and hitouts 28-25 but nothing with their advantage in those departments. Totally ineffectual.
Richmond 4.3, 6.5, 9.7, 11.11 (77)
Nth.Melb. 0.0, 2.3, 2.6, 2.11 (23)
Richmond: Martin 2, Chol 2, Aarts 2, Pickett, Riewoldt, Castagna, Lynch, Rioli
Nth.Melb: Dumont, Walker
Richmond: Eggmolesse-Smith 23, Short 21, Bolton 19, Grimes 19, Higgins 19, Lambert 19
Nth.Melb: Higgins 36, Dumont 25, Polec 23, Hall 22, Williams 20
Richmond: Caddy (hamstring)
Nth.Melb: Ziebell (hamstring), Hayden (concussion), Mahony (back/hip)
Nth.Melb: Zurhaar (calf) replaced by McKay
Richmond: Grimes for elbowing Wood in the second quarter