Richmond skipper Trent Cotchin is playing sore but hopes the Tigers’ week off will do him a world of good ahead of the AFL finals.
Cotchin missed the Tigers’ round-22 win over Essendon with a hamstring complaint and has looked proppy at times over the past month.
He spent roughly half of the game against Gold Coast in round 21 on the bench before ramping up his minutes during their final-round win over the Western Bulldogs.
The 28-year-old played like a battering ram last September, throwing his body into contests with reckless abandon and inspiring Richmond to a drought-breaking premiership.
Damien Hardwick said after the Bulldogs game that the club had carefully managed Cotchin in the lead-up to the finals but the skipper suggested that was an overstatement.
“I think that’s just the coach looking after me for not getting as many kicks as I should,” Cotchin joked.
“Obviously I missed (the Essendon game) two weeks prior and my game-time wasn’t high but I don’t typically play a heap of time compared to the key backs and so forth.
“I think everyone’s a little bit sore. It’s a long season.
“That’s the benefit of having a bye leading into finals – you get an extra week to make sure that your body’s as good as it possibly can be.”
The Tigers will kick off their premiership defence at a near-capacity MCG next Thursday night when they face Hawthorn in the first qualifying final.
Cotchin is confident the Tigers have plenty of improvement in them after barely scraping through against the Bulldogs and said they had grown as a group from last year.
“I think everyone shares the same sort of nervous energy about the important part of the year coming up but we’re really confident in what we do on the field,” he said.
“As a group, we have trust in each other and I think that’s the critical part of performing in the big games.”