“Ryder, who is a fantastic player, is out and Rowan Marshall, he’s a great ruckman and he has had two or three years of elite standard of footy, so he will be no doubt a tough challenge as well. I have so much respect for the way he goes about it.
“You never want to see anyone get injured.”
It sets up an intriguing battle, however, and Nankervis admitted his experience rucking on his own in big games was helpful as he headed into the clash, knowing he could stand up physically and mentally to the demands.
“I do take a lot of confidence knowing that I am able to do it and have been able to do it in big games before,” Nankervis said.
He has now played in 10 finals and been part of the losing team just twice, with Friday a rare feeling for the former Swan who has played in 21 losses in 79 games.
He praised the Lions for the win but admitted the Tigers’ propensity to give away crucial free kicks and 50-metre penalties did not help their cause, with the 15-point margin mainly due to such mistakes.
“We spoke about our discipline, which we addressed during the week,” Nankervis said.
“It was disappointing, on reflection. There are a lot of things we can get better at and we can improve, which we are excited about.”
Whether the Tigers retain Mabior Chol remains to be seen, with the mobile big man likely to make way for the returning Tom Lynch.
Nankervis is uncertain which way the selectors will go and how much support he will have now that last year’s premiership rucking partner Ivan Soldo is recovering from a knee reconstruction and Callum Coleman-Jones has missed his chance after he breached AFL protocols a month ago and was sent home.
“I’m not too fazed either way to be honest,” Nankervis said.
“I just enjoying getting out there and competing. Whether I am first ruck or not my role doesn’t change too much.”
He has played just eight games this season after an ankle injury sidelined him but he feels as though his form is slowly improving.
He knows what it’s like to return from injury and perform in big finals, having recovered from a groin injury in 2019 to earn a recall after a brilliant performance in a VFL final.
Out of contract at the end of the year, he has made it clear he wants to remain with Richmond but until the finals are done, hopefully from his perspective with a third flag, he’s not concerning himself with it.
Peter Ryan is a sports reporter with The Age covering AFL, horse racing and other sports.