Tigers Brandon Ellis (left) and Dustin Martin.
Tigers Brandon Ellis (left) and Dustin Martin. Adam Trafford/AFL Media

Buoyant Tigers benefit from off-season cleanout

BEING a Richmond player, Brandon Ellis has become accustomed to avoiding the press.

Having clinched just two finals wins since 1982, the Tigers have been the competition whipping boys for decades.

"Being one of the (traditional) big four clubs (of Melbourne) you're always going to have a lot of attention," the 113-gamer says. "The media is always going to try and scrutinise us where they can.

"But we try not to read too many papers or watch too many footy shows.

"Internally, we know what we have to do and so we don't pay too much attention to it."

Most of the headlines in the early part of 2017, however, so far have been positive, with the Tigers (3-0) enjoying their best start to a season since 1995.

It follows a period when they made three successive finals series (for no wins) before a 13th-place finish last year.

"We couldn't have asked for a better start," Ellis says.

"I put it down to a lot of new players, a lot of new coaches bringing new, positive energy.

"As soon as we got back to pre-season we wiped away what happened last year and wanted a fresh start."

Ellis, 23, himself has seen the burden of expectation eased with a new role running off half back, made possible by the additions of onballers Josh Caddy (Geelong) and Dion Prestia (Gold Coast).

 

Brandon Ellis is enjoying his move back to defence.
Brandon Ellis is enjoying his move back to defence.

"I'm not going through the midfield as much, playing more as a backman and really focussing on my defence," he said.

"I might not have the offensive stats to back it up - I'm not going to have those 25, 30 touches a week that everyone thinks I'm expected to have - but the coaches are really pleased with how I'm going this year defensively."

Among the off-field additions has been dumped Brisbane Lions coach Justin Leppitsch, who has been put in charge of the forwards.

"He seems a lot more relaxed, a lot more chilled out," Ellis says before Sunday's clash with Leppitsch's old side, the Lions, at the Gabba.

"He's enjoying taking on the forward line and developing the players like (Jason) Castaga, (Daniel) Rioli and (Dan) Butler.

"You've seen the impact they've had this year.

"He just seems like a rejuvenated man, and I'm sure he'll be looking forward to heading back up to Brisbane."

He won't be the only Tiger keen for the trip, Richmond having won its past seven games there.

"We really enjoy travelling as a team, getting away with each other," Ellis says.

News Corp Australia

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