Injuries made AFL Tigers stronger: Edwards

Shane Edwards is one of Richmond's senior players with more than 250 AFL games to his credit.
Shane Edwards is one of Richmond's senior players with more than 250 AFL games to his credit.

Richmond are reaping the benefits of players having to step up during their injury riddled AFL season, according to midfielder Shane Edwards.

Defender Alex Rance suffered a season-ending ACL tear in round one while captain Trent Cotchin, Jack Riewoldt and Toby Nankervis were among other key Tigers to spend significant stints on the sidelines.

Yet Richmond are on a 10-game winning streak as they have reintegrated their star players into a team that has maintained a strong run of form throughout the year.

"It's good from a learning point of view," Edwards told reporters.

"Having a different season to last year and making it to this point through a different way, I guess, and we don't have the same team as what we had last year, so it's a different journey."

Bachar Houli, Dion Prestia, Dylan Grimes and Nick Vlastuin have taken their games to another level while a number of fringe players have also impressed.

"It's awesome. It just gives everyone more trust that anyone can play a role or a position when we need them to," Edwards said.

"And when we have got the injured guys back it's just been awesome that everyone can maintain that high standard and that's something we expect now."

Edwards, who captained Richmond on occasion this year, said losing players to injury throughout the year had helped build resilience and brought the Tigers closer as a group.

"We've had some really big games this year, backs up against the wall and I suppose playing together for even longer in bigger games can definitely gel the group together more," he said.

"So yeah, I'd say we're a tighter group than what we were last year."

The Tigers have also taken advantage of an injection of youth - with Shai Bolton, Liam Baker and the injured Sydney Stack among the players to have blossomed this year.

"It brings a lot of enthusiasm but at the same time they're really good players, we're not just bringing them in because they're young, they're great players in their own right," Edwards said.

"So it's exciting having them out there."

Australian Associated Press