Ahead of the start of pre-season training on Monday, afc.com.au catches up with coach Brenton Sanderson.
In the final instalment of this three-part series, Sando identifies the team’s biggest area for improvement and talks about his plans for recruit Angus Graham.
Q. What are some of the areas the team needs to improve on?
A. “Tackling is probably the No.1 area for improvement this pre-season. We’re a very physical side and won our fair share of contested ball this year, but we’ll be having a big summer of tackling. We’ll increase the wrestling component of our pre-season to ensure we make our tackles stick.
“You can’t play consistent finals footy if you’re in the bottom four in tackles, which we were for most of the year. Most areas we improved considerably, but our tackling was one are we didn’t improve on throughout the year.”
Q. Ian Callinan has been promoted to the senior list for 2013 - a great reward for his season …
A. “Ian had a fantastic year. He kicked 40 goals as a small forward, and it’s such a difficult role to play. Stephen Milne has done it throughout his career. Phil Matera also did it for (the length of) a career, but there aren’t too many other guys, who have been able to consistently play as small, dangerous forwards. We’ll try to add a few extra strings to his bow over the summer.
"We’re really fortunate. He lived at the feet of Walker and Tippett and had a great year. He’s had to wait for his opportunity, but he’s made the most of it and I’m sure he’ll get even better next year.”
Q. Ruckman Angus Graham has also joined the senior list. How do you see Angus fitting into the structure?
A. “Richmond used only one ruckman for most of the season, as we did, but you do need depth in that position. It hurts teams when you lose a ruckman. We probably exposed Sam Jacobs to too many minutes. He would never admit it, but he had a huge workload this year and probably got to the end of the year and was just exhausted.
“Sam can’t sustain that for eight years. He needs help and Angus will provide that for him. I’m hoping if we make the finals in 2013 we have Jacobs and Graham, who have shared some ruck duties during the season and are both fresh and fit for another finals campaign.”
Q. You managed to get a quick trip to the United States in during your break. What did you get up to over there?
A. “There wasn’t much work involved. I left on a Tuesday and only booked the trip the Thursday before. A senior coach’s life goes a little bit from finals to reviews to draft camp and then trade week. All the while, we’re making adjustments to our staff for 2013
“I found a window of eight or nine days I could take off. I love my American sport and I had an opportunity to get to a couple of different sports in San Francisco and LA. I booked a flight and disappeared on my own. It was great. I sat on the sidelines for a football game and got access all areas for a baseball playoff game. It wasn’t long enough. I would’ve loved to have gone along the East Coast too, but I got my fix.
“I’ll tick that box for this year and now get ready for a wedding in January which is Project B on the back of Project A, getting ready for the pre-season … Veronika understands!”
Q. How are the wedding plans going? Veronika was concerned you hadn’t contributed much to the planning process!
A. Yes, and she’s right … but we’ve got most of the major plans covered off now, which is good. It’s going to be pretty cold over there in Prague, but we’re looking forward to it.