Lloyd eyes engine room

January 07, 2018

Sam Lloyd’s aim this season is to break into the Richmond midfield.

That’s no easy feat, however, with the Tigers coming off a drought-breaking premiership season and boasting names like Dustin Martin, Trent Cotchin, Dion Prestia, Bachar Houli and many more new-found stars from 2017 rotating through the engine room.

But Lloyd — who spoke to the Pastoral Times when back in his home town last week — knows he has to continue to evolve his game if he wants a regular gig in the senior side. Richmond’s success came off the back of the side’s ability to move the ball quickly with their leg speed and superior skills and the players’ ability to adjust to different roles when needed.

Lloyd’s sublime foot and hand skills aren’t an issue, however he’s not considered quick by AFL standards, which he concedes has hampered his ability to move into the midfield at senior level.

But his stunning finals campaign for Richmond’s VFL side last year — capped off with claiming the Norm Goss Medal as the best player afield in the grand final (albeit in a losing side) — has the 27 year-old almost nervous with excitement about the year ahead.

‘‘It’s nervous excitement in the sense that we’re coming off a premiership in the seniors and a grand final in the VFL, so it’s an exciting time and spots (in the senior side) will be hard to come by.

‘‘I was disappointed to miss a spot in the senior side but the proof was in the pudding. They went with the side that had performed and it worked, so there are no arguments from me.

‘‘That (missing out) and playing in a losing grand final has probably spurred me on that little bit more, and if the other reserves players feel the same as me, that can only be good for the club as a whole.

‘‘I’m 28 early this year and only have this year on my contract, so there’s plenty to play for.

‘‘It’s an exciting time for the Richmond Football Club and exciting for me with what lies ahead.

‘‘Although I played more (senior) games in 2016, I actually felt like last year was my best year because I developed my midfield game.’’

Lloyd and his Richmond teammates return to the training track next week following the Christmas break, and the former Deniliquin footballer said his ultimate goal is to win selection in the round one side.

He has 50 senior games to his credit and desperately wants to play a ‘‘final or two’’. Lloyd was dropped for the club’s elimination final loss in 2015 and the Tigers missed finals in 2016, which was Lloyd’s break-out year where he played every game and kicked 35 goals as a roaming forward.

He said being recognised as ‘‘versatile’’ is the key to breaking back into the senior side.

‘‘That’s my focus for pre-season; to continue to develop my game and show the selectors I can play other roles for the team.

‘‘I’m really confident in my ability and I’m going into post-Christmas training as fit as I’ve ever been. I know I’m not the quickest bloke on the park but I can read the play and play a role. Whatever happens, it’s an exciting time ahead.’’

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