Richmond coach Damien Hardwick and his players have lauded their Indigenous stars for their roles in the AFL club’s latest Dreamtime success.
The Tigers, who beat Essendon by 32 points on Saturday night, produced a stunning pre-game war cry as part of the ceremony to mark Sir Doug Nicholls Round.
Shane Edwards, Shai Bolton, Daniel Rioli and Maurice Rioli Jnr were at the centre of the dance, with suspended teammate Marlion Pickett also a prominent figure.
Pickett was granted an AFL exemption to take part and did so in traditional dress, along with other Indigenous Tigers who were not selected for the round-10 match.
The pre-match routine was Richmond’s way of showing respect to the traditional owners of the land on which their club is based.
Tigers defender Nathan Broad described it as a special moment.
“We have a massive Indigenous contingent here at Richmond and we’re very proud of that,” Broad told Fox Footy.
“We have the KGI (Korin Gamadji Institute) upstairs too, so we’re a very proud Indigenous footy club.
“To do that (war cry), I think we’re one of the first teams that’s ever done it.
“We’re very proud and very honoured to be a part of it.”
Pickett’s ban meant he was unable to play in the Indigenous jumper he and his partner Jessica Nannup designed for the Tigers.
“It was amazing to wear it tonight,” Broad said.
“Unfortunately he copped a week (suspension) but the way Marlion handled himself, you wouldn’t have known.
“He was straight on the front foot and wanted to get this dance under way.
“We really wanted to dig deep for Marlion because obviously he couldn’t be out there.”
Dion Prestia won the Yiooken Award as best afield and Jack Riewoldt kicked four crucial goals, while the four Indigenous players in the Tigers’ side all gave fitting contributions.
Daniel Rioli (26 disposals) and Edwards (21) won plenty of the ball as Bolton and Maurice Rioli kicked two goals each.
“It was a real positive for those boys, especially on such a significant occasion,” Hardwick said.
Daniel Rioli continues to reap the benefits of his move to half-back.
“He’s been really important to our regeneration with Bachar (Houli) retiring,” Hardwick said.
“He’s got some areas of his game that he can get better at but what he can do is bring his strengths to that part of the ground.
“We’re really proud of the way he’s gone about it and attacked it head-on.”
It was Richmond’s 12th consecutive victory over Essendon in a period of dominance dating back to 2014.