Troy Chaplin has become the Tigers’ second free agent signing in less than a week. The rumours have proved to be true, as it was revealed in the latter part of the season that Richmond were interested in acquiring the services of the 26-year-old.
After quitting Port Adelaide on Monday, the Tigers pounced on the opportunity to put an offer to the restricted free agent. Port Adelaide refused yesterday to match the offer, seeing the mobile backman bound for his home state and Punt Road on a three-year contract.
It’s no surprise that Chaplin was highly sought-after by Richmond. For several years now, the club’s backline has been undermanned and in desperate need of quality tall defenders. His signing is much needed for the finals hopeful.
Lacking experience and support for the whole of the 2012 season, captain Chris Newman had to virtually control the backline by himself. In particular, there were no experienced key-position defenders to help out Alex Rance, seeing as Kelvin Moore was out with a hip injury and Luke McGuane was played mostly in the forward line.
Despite being undersized through injuries, the young Tigers tried immensely hard each week against the opposition forwards, standing their ground and producing many fine efforts.
This is where a player of Troy Chaplin’s calibre is vital if Richmond wants to taste September action in 2013. He brings 140 games of experience and knowledge to the table, having matched up on the league’s best forwards during his time at Port Adelaide.
At 195cm and 100kg, he is ready-made to take the vacant centre half-back position. His presence on and off the field will assist with the ongoing development of the Tigers’ defenders.
The inclusion of Chaplin creates a more balanced looking backline. Rance will hold down the full back position after a consistent season, with Dylan Grimes taking the third tall and Newman, Bachar Houli and Steven Morris providing the run and carry out of defence. Adding to its depth are Jake Batchelor, Matt Dea and Brandon Ellis. They are all hard players, good users by foot and very reliable under pressure.
Having Chaplin at centre half-back can now allow Ben Griffiths to play up forward and be the other key-position option to Jack Riewoldt at full forward. Another addition to Richmond’s forward line is Chris Knights, who became the the club’s first unrestricted free agent signing on Monday.
The former Adelaide Crow has superb goal sense and is a penetrating left-foot kick on the run. He should slot perfectly onto a half-forward flank and coach Damien Hardwick may also rotate him through the midfield.
Providing they are both injury free, expect Chaplin and Knights to feature in the traditional Round 1 clash with Carlton and play an important part in Richmond’s 2013 season.
Mitchell Wood is a first-year Bachelor of Sport Journalism student at La Trobe University. You can follow him on Twitter: @Mitchell_Woody