Senior Coach - Damien Hardwick
Defensive Analyst - Ross Smith
Defenders Coach - Justin Leppitsch
Midfield Stoppage Coach - Brendon Lade
Midfield Spread Coach - Danny Daly
Forwards Coach - Mark Williams
Development Coach - Greg Mellor
Leadership Development and Opposition Analyst- Wayne Campbell
I don’t know a whole heap about coaching in the AFL so I will have to keep this relatively short. Unlike players, you can’t really see directly how a coach is performing, however you can judge somewhat based on the results of the team. Here are my short thoughts on each of the Richmond coaches listed above.
Damien Hardwick – The senior coach took over the reins of the club for the start of the 2010 season after the unsuccessful stint of Terry Wallace and in that time Hardwick has overseen a huge overturn of the players on the Richmond list. Hardwick seems to have gelled wonderfully with his players and the love that the players have for their coach can be seen clearly when Hardwick was presented with a birthday cake during the middle of a press release.
The mantra for Damien in his two years to date has been youth, youth and youth. Quite often Hardwick has even played younger players over more able but senior players for the sake of development. Hardwick has also spent time coaching from the sidelines as well as from the box as he looked to give his young players instant feedback where possible.
In 2012 though things are about to change. Hardwick has already stated that the focus of the club is to shift from development of players to winning games and this now means that games will no longer be gifted to younger players. At a minimum Hardwick will be hoping to see an improved win-loss record on last year’s performance but in all honesty Damien will be hoping for a finals berth. Nothing develops players quicker than a few finals games and all involved at Richmond are desperate to reach that mark sooner rather than later.
Ross Smith – Forget Ivan Maric or Steven Morris, the defensive analyst Ross Smith is perhaps the biggest Tiger recruit for the 2012 season. Ross has brought his talents across from Hawthorn. It was at that club that both Hardwick and Smith had worked together before, bringing a premiership to the Hawks. Smith is highly rated by many and will no doubt help Richmond with their defensive structures and strategies. It’s too early to judge Ross yet but hopefully by the end of the season we will have seen a drastic decrease in the ‘Points Against’ column next to Richmond’s name on the AFL Ladder.
Justin Leppitsch – Leppitsch was a great defender for Brisbane during their triple premiership winning years so it is only natural that he takes the defenders coaching role at Tigerland. From what little I have seen he seems like a real ‘players coach’, not afraid to get in there and show the players what he wants them to do by doing it himself. Seems like a great addition to Punt Road so far.
Brendon Lade – I have to admitthat of all our coaches, Lade is the one I have been least impressed with. Not that that means much because as I mentioned before; I know next to nothing about coaching. It just seems that over the past couple of years that Lade has spent as ruck coach, our ruckman have seemingly gone backwards. Who’s to say that that’s the coaches fault anyway? Lade is now a midfield stoppage coach and I’m willing to give him time to prove himself, especially since Hardwick has faith in the big fella.
Danny Daly – Danny Daly is Richmond’s midfield spread coach after joining us in 2010 as a forwards coach. From what I have seen so far I have no reason to complain about the job Daly has done so far. Danny seems like a smart man and appears to be getting the message across to the players. Daly’s previous position as an opposition scout and coach probably comes in handy too.
Mark Williams – When I first heard that Mark Williams was joining the Richmond coaching team this season I thought that the Tigers had somehow snared the premiership coach who is an assistant at GWS. This Williams is not the same as the GWS one but he is very much respected and experienced as a coach through many leagues across Australia. At Tigerland in 2012 he will be our forwards coach which should see him working with the likes of Riewoldt and Vickery to get their structures right and generally improve their game. I like Williams’ appointment and feel the wealth of experience he brings with him will be of incredible value for Hardwick.
Greg Mellor – Greg Mellor is another new member to the Richmond coaching panel and joins us as the Development coach. Greg will be responsible for looking after Richmond’s first and second year players as well as the club’s players who are at Coburg level. We haven’t had enough time to see just how good Mellor is in this role and probably won’t for a few years yet. Let’s hope that in three years’ time we are raving about the incredible development of players like Conca, Batchelor and Ellis.
Wayne Campbell – Wayne joined the Richmond coaching team in 2009 as a midfield coach and now finds himself in the role of ‘Leadership Development and Opposition Analyst’. As a past captain of our great club Wayne should certainly have plenty to share in the leadership stakes. Previously to joining Richmond, Wayne spent two years as an assistant coach at the Dogs so he should have plenty to offer the team. It’s always good to see past greats of the club continue to contribute to the club after their playing days are over so I’m happy to see Wayne still a part of the coaching team.