The new team on the block are looking to start their inaugural AFLW season with a bang.
With some high-profile recruits and quality local talent from the VFLW, Richmond will be eager to use their mix of experience and youth to make their mark in AFLW.
Richmond list manager, Kate Sheehan, was busy in the off-season, acquiring the services of some of the AFLW’s top players and securing those from their VFLW side, before heading to the draft and adding a further 13 players, nine of which were 18 year-olds.
This recruiting strategy hasn’t gone unnoticed among the AFLW world with Richmond receiving six out of 14 votes for the “best new team” by a survey on womens.afl.com as voted by a player from each team.
It’s not hard to see why they polled the most amount of votes when you see who will be donning the yellow and black this season, including former Western Bulldog captain, Katie Brennan, 2018 best-on-ground winner, Monique Conti and All-Australian forwards, Sabrina Frederick and Christina Bernardi.
"It's been something that I've looked on in a bit of envy in a sense," Brennan told AAP.
"The first game I just remember being in tears of pride and just being so excited for all the girls running out there, that it was finally possible - we were playing for premiership points in AFLW gear.
"It's something that I've really aspired towards but I've loved watching along the way.
"I'm genuinely so excited and all you want to do is just play footy at this time of year."
Coach, Tom Hunter, who won the 2019 VFLW coach of the year award, has also trusted his players to make the jump as they were elevated to the AFLW list and will be ready to make their debut this season.
Key defender, Rebecca Miller and goal-kicking forward, Tayla Stahl also earned spots in the VFLW team of the year and have already shown that they are comfortable at the next level over the pre-season.
The former Victorian U18s netballer, Stahl starred in Richmond’s latest practice match against fellow expansion team, West Coast, kicking three very important goals as the Tigers kicked 7.9 (51) to 3.5 (23) claiming victory at Punt Road Oval.
One of the feel-good stories of the year includes Richmond AFLW recruiter and former Collingwood-player, Lauren Tesoriero who was taken by Richmond in pick number 96 of this years draft.
After rupturing her ACL in June last year, it looked like she’d miss out on the 2020 season, fortunately she was able to prove her fitness and nominate for the draft. She has already been full training for a while, played against the Eagles and has been selected for round one against Carlton.
She adds invaluable experience both on and off the field for the playing group, having also been appointed deputy vice-captain.
Richmond will be keen to continue their strong pre-season form as they take on cross-town club rival, Carlton this Friday night at Ikon Park for the first game of the season.
The 2019 grand-finalists will know what to expect as they prepare to enter their fourth season compared to the new-comers in Richmond.
However, there will be no time to waste with only eight home and away rounds and three weeks of finals, Richmond will look to make an immediate impact on the league, starting with the Blues away from home.
The blockbuster match includes eleven AFLW debuts for the Tigers including first ever draft selection Sophie Molan and fellow draftees Sarah Sansonetti and Laura McClelland.
It’s no surprise to see Katie Brennan’s name come up first as one of Richmond’s key players as she was appointed their inaugural captain, a role that is not unfamiliar having led the Bulldogs from 2017-19 where she was one of their two inaugural marquee players and their leading goal-kicker in 2019.
Unfortunately, she was cruelled by injuries over her time at the Kennel and missed the 2018 grand-final due to suspension, she will be keen for a fresh start in new colours this season.
Brennan possess clean hands, is good both sides of her body and is clinical around goal when used as a forward target, however this season may see her running through the midfield more where Richmond hopes to utilise her elite skills around stoppages.
Christina Bernardi is one of the reasons Richmond may push more midfield minutes into Brennan, as the damaging forward has proved at former clubs Collingwood and GWS, by averaging almost a goal per game.
The All-Australian player will also be eager to work with fellow All-Australian recruit, Sabrina Frederick who will also occupy the forward 50 in the yellow and black this season.
Richmond will be hoping that Frederick’s contested marking and Bernardi’s pace out the back of contests will make it hard for others teams to stop. Bernardi’s strong leadership skills and experience means that she will work as vice-captain for the Tigers.
She will also be keen to link up with Phoebe Monahan again after their stints in the orange and grey together in Sydney.
The ever-reliable defender rounds out Richmond’s inaugural leadership group, also recently being appointed co-deputy vice-captain alongside Tesoriero.
One to watch
Could have easily been placed in the heading above having won numerous awards in the past two years, but at only 20 years-old she still has the potential to take the AFLW by storm.
Richmond traded the number one pick in the 2019 AFLW draft for the smooth-moving midfielder and would have been delighted as she decided to prioritise AFLW and decided to leave the Melbourne Boomers early, making her available for round one selection.
After earning a spot in the All-Australian team last year, Conti has already taken out Richmond’s VFLW best and fairest and runner-up in the VFLW best and fairest, off the back of only playing in 8 games makes it scary for what she can achieve in the next few months and in the future.
Other players to watch include Richmond’s first selection in this years draft (pick 7), outside midfielder, Sophie Molan, as well as the silky-skilled midfielder, Kodi Jacques, both of whom will make their AFLW debuts together in round one.