Richmond is facing its “biggest” six-week ban in recent years, as at least three veterans in the playoffs have no new deals until 2023.
The Tigers are stuck in eighth place on the ladder, just a percentage behind the Western Bulldogs and St Kilda heading into round 19.
Last week’s shock loss to North Melbourne put a huge spin on the club’s finals run, with Fox Footy’s Jordan Lewis expecting a “cleansing” to come.
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“We could see at the end of the season (although) if this Richmond Football Club makes it to the top eight and wins the final, we’ll still see a changing of the guard,” he told AFL 360.
Players in the final stages of their careers may be done.
“At any level where this happens at a club, you need to appreciate the players who have sat through their last tenure.
“Every player comes to the realization that they have to retire or hand over the baton to the next group of players.
“I don’t think it’s going to be a wholesale cleanup because I think you still have to have a little fabric there… to teach these young players the right way to go.
“It’s been a big six weeks – probably the biggest five or six weeks they’ve had in the last few years.”
Jack Ryallt has not committed to playing for the club after 16 years, while Trent Cotchin (15 years) and Shane Edwards (16 years) are also out of contract for next season. Ken Lambert’s future in 2022 is still undecided as he battles an ongoing hip problem.
Riewoldt was excellent when discussing his future on AFL360 earlier this year.
“I’ll be 34 at the end of this year, maybe it only takes a poor month of football to kill a little love or maybe the club lose a little love in me and my direction changes,” he said.
“I have other things in life that I want to do as well.
“It’s been a great journey and a great environment to work in… It makes me realize how lucky I am to be involved in a great football club and to have a career as an AFL footballer.
The Tigers now take on a Fremantle side that has lost one of their four games at Marvel Stadium.
It is their first game against a top four team – they will follow Brisbane in round 20.
The Tigers sit two games behind seventh-placed Carlton after losing three of their last four games.
As the only team with an average of less than 20 per game, they are currently ranked 18th in the competition.