‘He will stay’: Manager’s pledge for young Tiger star
Richmond breakout star Shai Bolton has no intention of testing the market this year with his manager Ralph Carr yesterday pledging "he will stay" at Tigerland.
Bolton finished fourth in the Richmond best and fairest and, as a dual premiership midfielder who only turns 23 in December, he has the football world at his feet.
Carr manages out-of-contract Tigers Bolton, Daniel Rioli and Mabior Chol, with the trio all keen to remain next year despite their deals expiring.
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Bolton has at times been linked to a move back to West Australia and with his withering pace and classy skills is exactly the kind of player rivals would hope to inject into their midfield mix.
Richmond's array of talent and tight salary cap also means they cannot offer their mid-tier players the vast wages they might command elsewhere.
Yet Carr revealed to the Herald Sun yesterday that while contract talks might take some time, Bolton's only priority was eventually re-signing with the club.
"My feeling is he won't move from Tigerland. He will stay. He is a ripping kid and why would he want to go anywhere else. He has only just turned 22 and his breakout year is probably this year. He is a special player. He is just a beauty."
On the open market Bolton would easily be worth $600,000 to a team that signed him on a long-term deal to add break-neck speed and goalkicking (15 goals in 2020) from the midfield.
Bolton kicked three dynamic goals in the knockout semi-final against St Kilda then capped off his season with a seven-tackle, 16 possession Grand Final that included nine contested possessions.
In a season that is expected to involve gut-busting midfield efforts because of limited interchanges and a premium on quick onballers given the man-on-the-mark rule Bolton could barely be better placed.
Rioli, 23, is also keen to stay and while he has always loved the club, the drafting of Maurice Rioli jr only cements his place at Punt Road.
Richmond has many of its stars and valuable role players out of contract this year including Jack Riewoldt, Nick Vlastuin and Ivan Soldo.
Despite a media report about Sydney luring Martin up north after his contract expires he has four more seasons on his contract, loves Richmond and could not be better placed to finish that deal strongly.
Martin, who only turns 30 in June, has played 244 AFL games and should set his sights on 350 games or more if he can continue his remarkable durability.
Coach Damien Hardwick says he is in awe of Martin's ability to continually improve upon his form after three North Smith Medals, with his only issue holding the Brownlow Medallist back this early in the season
LEPPITSCH LANDS SURPRISING NEW FOOTY ROLE
One of the key architects in Richmond's premiership run has found himself a new role in football - coaching a high school team.
Former Tigers assistant coach Justin Leppitsch will lead Peninsula Grammar's 1st XVIII football team this year in a surprising coup for the Mount Eliza school.
Leppitsch joined Richmond ahead of the 2017 season, helping the club break a 37-year premiership drought that year.
He took charge of the Tigers' unique small forward line in 2017 and 2018, before leading Richmond's rock-solid defensive group in 2019 and 2020.
Leppitsch, who was also senior coach of Brisbane Lions from 2014-2016, announced last September that he would step away from the AFL industry in 2021 but suggested he would not be lost to the game for good.
"I have loved my time at Richmond, and I am proud of what we have been able to achieve as a club in my time here," Leppitsch said at the time.
"Coaching and watching individuals grow as men and players is an amazing and rewarding experience.
"I would no doubt love to be involved in footy again at some stage in the future, but the time is right to take a break."
Leppitsch told the Herald Sun's SACKED podcast last year that his one stipulation about joining the Tigers when he spoke to senior coach Damien Hardwick was that he wanted to be competitive again after his tough stint as coach of the Lions.
"I got upset with three years of being non-competitive … all I wanted was a group that tackled and pressured and made it hard for the opposition," he said.
"I said to 'Dimma', if I am going to fight for anyone (at selection), I will fight for Dan Butler, I will fight for Jason Castagna, I am even going to get Jack (Riewoldt) to tackle somehow."
During a playing career that spanned 227 games for the Brisbane Bears and later the Brisbane Lions, Leppitsch also won three AFL premierships and was a three-time All-Australian defender.
Peninsula Grammar, which has about 1450 students from Prep to Year 12, most recently finished eighth on the Associated Grammar Schools of Victoria football premiership ladder in 2019.
Originally published as 'He will stay': Manager's pledge for young Tiger star