Tigers no longer rattled by finals: Grimes

No longer rattled by the pressure to perform in September, Richmond are approaching their biggest AFL game in 16 years with clear-eyed calm.

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The Tigers are daring to dream after last week’s huge qualifying final win over Geelong – their first finals triumph since 2001.

They will play the winner of the Greater Western Sydney-West Coast semi-final at the MCG on Saturday week.

Regardless of their opponent, the hype is bound to be enormous.

But defender Dylan Grimes is confident the Tigers are better-placed to handle the pressure than in previous September excursions.

“Leading into this finals series, it probably felt less like a final than all the other ones that we’ve played in up to this point,” Grimes said on Friday.

“I think that was a real sign of maturity from the club, to show that we were just focused on what we could control inside these four walls.

“Going into the game, we were really calm and relaxed about what we needed to do.

“I think that was a real change from previous years … we spoke about the hype earlier, whether we got a little bit rattled by that or not, it’s in the past now.

“This year, we were so focused, and I felt like winning that was a cap-off to a great 12 months or even 24 months to get to this point.”

Richmond have been among the best defensive sides in the competition this year, and Grimes has stood out with a career-best season.

Along with All-Australian fullback Alex Rance and lockdown defender David Astbury, the versatile Grimes has played every game this season.

The 26-year-old had struggled previously with soft-tissue injuries but said he had benefited from the introduction of the pre-finals bye.

“I knew my body was feeling pretty sore at that time of year so I was relishing the week off,” he said.

“I suppose it comes down to each individual player and each individual club as well.

“I know for us, it really suited us. The week off this weekend is another bonus for us as well.”

Richmond will hold their main training session for the week behind closed doors on Saturday, but they had a light run in front of fans at Punt Road on Friday.

Astbury, midfielder Dion Prestia and youngster Jack Graham walked laps away from the main group but are not considered in doubt for next week.