Published by Michael Ramsey, 3 September 2018
Dual premiership coach Denis Pagan reckons Richmond are vulnerable heading into the AFL finals – and the Eagles, despite all their injuries, are his pick to win the flag.
Pagan, who will present the Jock McHale Medal to this year’s premiership-winning coach, believes the Tigers are in danger of getting ahead of themselves after being installed as short-priced favourites to claim back-to-back flags.
The North Melbourne great, who led the Kangaroos to premierships in 1996 and 1999, is backing West Coast to go all the way behind the momentum of winning two home finals to get to the grand final.
“I think the Tigers have had a long while to think about premierships,” Pagan told reporters on Monday.
“I’m sure their players would have been thinking about premierships probably from about four or five weeks ago when no other side in the competition had the opportunity to think about it.
“It’s going to be exciting to see what Damien (Hardwick) does to get their minds on the job and play in the present and not get involved in the future.”
Pagan compared Richmond’s situation to the 1998 season when the Kangaroos won the minor premiership but lost to Adelaide in the grand final, adding that the week off before their first final wouldn’t help the Tigers’ cause.
“I think they’ll beat Hawthorn this week and that means they’re not going to play many games,” Pagan said.
“We’re in this age of sensitive new-age coaches and strength and conditioning guys.
“I know people will say I’m a silly old fool for talking like this but on the Saturdays off I used to say to our guys ‘the side isn’t finalised, bring your mouthguards, it’s going to be on for young and old’.
“I think the players thrived on competition.”
AFL finals launched in Melbourne
Brisbane Lions hero Shaun Hart will present the Norm Smith Medal at the AFL Grand Final.
AFL chief Gillon McLachlan said there were no plans to remove the pre-finals bye with bumper crowds expected for all four first-week finals.
Brisbane triple-premiership winner Shaun Hart will present the Norm Smith Medal to the player judged best-afield in the grand final.
Retired Hawthorn star Josh Gibson was announced as this year’s premiership cup ambassador.