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Mini-Tigerland? Richmond frustrated at Dons' coach poaching

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The result spoke for itself when Richmond cleared the decks at the end of 2016, replacing most of their assistant coaches, appointing Neil Balme as head of football and dividing his duties with his predecessor Daniel Richardson.

It's true that the transformed Damien Hardwick drove the change with captain Trent Cotchin but a key ingredient to that year of Tiger wonders was Richardson's willingness to swallow his pride and work alongside Balme, a close family friend who had played in premierships with his father Barry.


Had the man who became the new football boss been anyone but Balme, Richardson, who was being wooed by Geelong back then, might have left. Instead he spent one more season at Richmond before becoming football boss at Essendon.

To say that Richardson learned some valuable lessons over those last two years at Richmond would be something of an understatement. To say that the Tigers are not exactly thrilled with Richardson this week would be another.

The former player manager turned respected football administrator has poached two assistant coaches crucial to the Tigers' 2017 premiership in two years. First Ben Rutten, who has worked to transform the Bombers' defence, and now Blake Caracella, who will be charged with improving ball movement and the forwards.

If you asked Richardson about the moves he has made at Essendon - and there will be more by season's end - he would say that Balme had always told him to surround himself and his football club with good people.

Richmond assistant coach Blake Caracella.Credit:AAP

If you asked Balme he would respond: "Yes, but I didn't mean you to take all my people."

Balme, who has........

© Brisbane Times