Published By Sarah Olle, 22 August 2018 on foxsports.com.au
RICHMOND may be sitting pretty on the top of the ladder.
But the reigning premiers haven’t got there courtesy of the umpires.
It’s well known the Tigers have received the fewest free kicks in 2018.
But Jack Riewoldt could be the player most harshly penalised. Just look at the numbers.
North Melbourne’s Ben Brown has received 42 frees, while Carlton’s Charlie Curnow (25), Melbourne’s Jesse Hogan (23), Collingwood’s Mason Cox (22) and Adelaide’s Josh Jenkins (22) have all bee well compensated.
Yet Riewoldt — who plays in the same vain as all the aforementioned forwards — has received just 12 free kicks from marking contests.
It has been an increasing frustration for Richmond coach Damien Hardwick, who plead his forward’s case after Friday night’s win over Essendon.
“I look at Jack tonight and I thought, ‘You know what, he doesn’t get much’,” Hardwick said.
“And I look at the other end and I think, ‘Ooh, I wish he was playing for the other end’.
“Jack normally perseveres with it — he doesn’t complain, doesn’t blame — he just gets on with it and jumps at the ball.
“So it is what it is, not much we can do about it — we’ll just take it for what it is and hopefully get a better result next week.”
While it’s a coach’s prerogative to vouch for his player, Hardwick has found a friend in three-time premiership Lion Jonathan Brown, who said the numbers were “compelling”.
“Damien Hardwick has got a point,” Brown said on Fox Footy’s On The Couch.
“I know what they’d be saying in opposition team meetings: Just do whatever you can to impede Jack because if we can stop Jack from jumping we can beat the Tigers.
“He’s the only one who can jump in the forward line. He’s the only tall so they’re very reliant on him.”
Riewoldt (60) is two goals clear of Brown (58) in the race for the Coleman Medal.
Sydney’s Lance Franklin (57) and Geelong’s Tom Hawkins (56) are also in contention for the coveted award, with one round remaining in the home and away season.
FREE KICKS IN A MARKING CONTEST
1. Ben Brown (42)
2. Charlie Curnow (25)
3. Jesse Hogan (23)
4. Mason Cox (22)
4. Josh Jenkins (22)
6. Phil Davis (21)
7. Charlie Dixon (20)
7. Eric Hipwood (20)
7. Alex Rance (20)
10. Patrick Cripps (18)
25. Jack Riewoldt (12)