RICHMOND premiership forward Jason Castagna says his team-mates have vowed to maintain the spirit that led to last season’s AFL premiership.
Fronting the media at Ulumbarra Theatre on the opening day of the Tigers’ two day AFL Community Camp in Bendigo, the 21-year-old hinted his teammates had entered this pre-season more composed and self-assured than last season following a dismal 2016.
“We just want to focus each session at a time in pre-season to having a bit of fun,” Castagna said.
“The boys are training pretty well, but obviously we haven’t gone up against any other teams yet. We’re keen to have a good year.”
Despite the gloss from the Tigers’ drought-breaking premiership seemingly no closer to subsiding, Castagna insisted the club would not be resting on its laurels.
“We didn’t see last year as the end, but rather the start of a journey,” Castagna said.
He also confirmed there would be no radical overhaul of the “simple” game plan that bore so much success in 2017, but perhaps some minor tweaking.
The Tigers relied heavily on its group of slick and defensively-minded small forwards, among them Castagna, Dan Butler and Daniel Butler, with cameos from Shai Bolton and Tyson Stengle.
Castagna responded by playing all 25 games in his third year at Richmond, kicking 26 goals, including one on grand final day against Adelaide.
In encouraging news for Bendigo-based Tigers fans, the former Northern Knights TAC Cup star backed his forward partner Rioli to rebound strongly from off-season foot surgery and play a key role in the push for back-to-back flags, something the Tigers last achieved in 1973-74.
“He is going well – it was obviously a very nasty injury, but he has done all his rehab and he is doing everything he can (to make it back),” Castagna said.
“He’s made some progress recently. It will be good to have him back.”
Pre-season will break new ground for all AFL clubs this week with the launch of AFLX.
Played on a rectangular field with seven players on the field and three on the bench, teams have been bracketed in groups of six at three venues.
Each team will play two games, with the Tigers to meet GWS and Brisbane in Sydney on Saturday.
Castagna said he was looking forward to being involved in something different and exciting.