RICHMOND defender Dylan Grimes has praised the influence of injured star Alex Rance on the Tigers’ surge to their second AFL grand final in three years.
Defender Rance has been sidelined since rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament in Richmond’s season opener and abandoned his bid for an ambitious early comeback in August.
Grimes said the five-time All Australian’s support of his teammates, despite his own personal disappointment, had been impressive.
“He’s played such a huge role in the development of not just our younger players but some players like myself that played a similar role to him,” Grimes told reporters on Tuesday.
“And the energy that he brings to the group this year has obviously been testament to the character that he is because … for a player of that influence going out in round one and seeing the team go on and play a role in finals like we have so far, it’d be understandable for them to go insular and make it about them.
“But Rancey’s been completely the opposite.
“He’s been an amazing support for me and the players and seeing him respond to his injury and make the selfless call to not put his hand up to play, even though he may have been ready or not, is amazing.”
Grimes praised the resilience of Richmond’s defence in Rance’s absence.
Bachar Houli and Grimes – who collected his first career Brownlow Medal votes on Monday night – have arguably enjoyed career-best seasons, while Nick Vlastuin has also had an excellent year.
“I think when we played Geelong the previous time, there was like, four backs that weren’t part of the back seven, maybe even five,” Grimes said.
“It’s just amazing to think so many players that have gone through there and to have built the connection that we have given the personnel changes… is fantastic and testament to the leaders Dave (Astbury) and Bachar and Nick that have really galvanised the back group in some challenging times.
“But I think we’re lucky in that we’ve played a lot of footy together now and I think we’ve played some big games together as well.
“So, we’re feeling about as well prepared as we could be.”
© AAP 2019