Three-time premiership player Cameron Mooney says improvement from a range of Richmond’s second string players is the ingredient to the Tigers successfully defending their 2017 premiership.
The former Geelong forward says Richmond face the risk of being caught by the rest of the competition should they continue to be led by a small group of star players, who he believes contains 2017 Brownlow Medallist Dustin Martin, skipper Trent Cotchin, All-Australian captain Alex Rance, key forward Jack Riewoldt and Bachar Houli.
However Mooney says that should a number of players from the next level down make a step up in 2018, lasting success could well be on the way for long suffering Richmond supporters.
“A champion team will always prevail (over a team of champions), but that champion team will get caught unless it has a bunch of champions in that team,” he told SEN Drive.
“You go back to Hawthorn and you’ve got Luke Hodge, Shaun Burgoyne, Sam Mitchell, Jordan Lewis, Lance Franklin, Jarryd Roughead, Luke Breust, Jack Gunston, Cyril Rioli, Josh Gibson and you throw in Brian Lake on top of that. There’s 11 players.
“Brisbane back in their heyday had Michael Voss, Simon Black, Nigel Lappin, Jason Akermanis, Justin Leppitsch, Mal Michael, Chris Johnson, Alastair Lynch, Daniel Bradshaw and Jonathan Brown, there’s ten.
“Geelong had Matthew Scarlett, Corey Enright, Gary Ablett, Jimmy Bartel, Joel Selwood, Joel Corey, Cameron Ling, Brad Ottens, Steve Johnson, Paul Chapman and James Kelly, there’s 11.
“At the start of their premiership runs they didn’t have 11 superstars, they had a champion team, but the reason they went on and had the success of three or four Grand Finals in a row was that there was up to 11 stars (in that list).
“This is now Richmond’s next step. They take these four to five stars that they have and they turn it into 10 or 11 and then they will get sustained success, otherwise they could be a one-hit wonder.
“Richmond now need to turn David Astbury, Daniel Butler, Josh Caddy, Jason Castagna, Dion Prestia, Toby Nankervis, Daniel Rioli, Jayden Short, Nick Vlastuin and Jack Graham (into stars).
“If they take that next step and be in that group of 10 to 12 players, then Richmond could well and truly go back to back.”
Mooney believes a lack of stars was the underpinning the Western Bulldogs’ disappointing 2016 premiership defence, where they became the first team in nearly a decade to miss the finals the year after winning the premiership.
“This is where the Bulldogs are at,” he said.
“They had a poor year last season. They had a champion team, the best team through the finals and they won the Grand Final, but they didn’t have a dozen superstars in their team.”
Richmond’s premiership defence gets underway against Carlton at the MCG on Thursday March 22.