BRISBANE – For years Jack Riewoldt has considered Alex Rance the best teammate he’s played with.
Following Saturday’s premiership, Riewoldt – beer in hand – elevated Dustin Martin to the top of his personal perch.
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Martin became the only player to win three Norm Smith medals courtesy of his four-goal performance at the Gabba.
It prompted Riewoldt, who slotted two himself, to realign his order of Tiger greats.
Not only that, but the forward declared Martin the best player of the last decade, regardless of club.
“I always say Alex Rance is the greatest player I’ve ever played with,” Riewoldt explained in a one-on-one interview with Fox Footy post-match.
“But clearly Dustin is now. He’s the best player we’ve probably seen in the last decade.”
“Everyone sees his on-field but I can tell you right now, he’s a better person than he is a player. That is how special he is to this group. He has grown so much over the last 11 years.”
While experts widely believed thunderstorms and rain would benefit the Tigers on Saturday, Riewoldt had a different perspective.
Strong winds and rain lashed Brisbane in the hours before the match, prompting the ground staff to put cricket covers over the centre square.
But by the time the game began, it was dry enough for the umpire to bounce the ball and it barely drizzled all evening.
Instead of exploiting Geelong with chaos and pressure, Riewoldt suggested the focus was to get over the top of the Cats via leg speed and ball movement.
Ultimately, the plan worked. From 22 points down in the second term, the Tigers won by 31 points.
“I don’t think the wet weather suited us as much as it was made out to,” the three-time premiership player said.
“We felt that we could exploit Geelong with our pace. The conditions dried up a bit obviously.
“You have to be careful of falling into the circus around the weather. We played in the wet last week and were able to win. We have a game plan that can stand up in any conditions. We had to be brave with the way we moved the ball and the way we defended.”
At one stage, Riewoldt even attended a centre bounce as a ruckman as Toby Nankervis earned a rest.
The unusual move was a result of Nick Vlastuin’s concussion, which forced Damien Hardwick to re-shuffle the magnets on his whiteboard.
Riewoldt couldn’t quite believe it when he was called up, but laughed about it after the match as teammates mingled among confetti on the Gabba turf with premiership medallions around their necks.
“Today my game looked a little bit different to what it has,” he said.
“I attended a centre bounce at an AFL Grand Final as a ruckman! Rotations got thrown around once Nick Vlastuin was knocked out of the game… We needed to find someone to throw in there to give Nank a spell. Unfortunately I was a lamb to the slaughter.
“The theme for the game and for the whole year has just been ‘do your job.’ I try and embrace the pressure.”
Riewoldt also gave a shout out to his family and all Richmond supporters.
“I just want to send a massive cheerio to all Tigers fans around the country who have done it tough with the circumstances we find ourselves in… This one goes out to them.”