Tigers AFL great Richardson lauds Riewoldt

Richmond’s mosquito fleet may have stolen the limelight but Jack Riewoldt deserves credit for helping to lift the Tigers into the AFL grand final.

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That’s the assessment of Tigers great Matthew Richardson, who will present the premiership cup to skipper Trent Cotchin should Richmond defeat Adelaide at the MCG on Saturday.

The bold decision to play Riewoldt for much of the year as a lone tall target in an unusually small forward line has paid off handsomely, with the Tigers reaching the grand final for the first time in 35 years.

It has also forced the club’s eight-time leading goal kicker to add new strings to his bow.

The dual Coleman Medallist has focused heavily on providing opportunities for eye-catching small forwards Daniel Rioli, Dan Butler and Jason Castagna, who have largely flourished despite their inexperience.

Richardson, who booted 800 goals during a glittering career at Punt Road, said his key-forward successor had carried a heavy load for the Tigers.

“Jack’s been amazing this year,” Richardson said on Tuesday.

“He’s played a role where he’s had to be the sole tall forward and it’s taken a lot of energy, I’d say, with the contests that he has to get to and bring (the ball) to ground.

“He’s had a really good year, he’s kicked 50 goals again. You talk about his team-play – he’s been outstanding this year.

“Some of the goals he creates with his little tap-ons and just his footy smarts – he’s a really smart footballer, Jack, and he’s played a really big role in that forward line.”

Riewoldt was kept quiet during the Tigers’ huge preliminary final win over Greater Western Sydney, finishing with eight disposals, two marks and a goal.

But the 28-year-old was happy to take a back-seat so long as his side came away with the win.

“My role is completely different to what it has been in the past,” Riewoldt said.

“Although I probably didn’t have the kicks, marks and handballs, I like to think that I led from the front.

“I just tried to keep those younger guys in the game and provide them with (opportunities for) their strengths, which is getting the ball to ground.”

Kepu wants more from Wallabies’ scrum

Australia might have fixed their scrum issues against Argentina but veteran prop Sekope Kepu says they can’t afford to rest on their laurels as they brace for another brutal set-piece battle with South Africa.

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Tighthead Kepu led a vastly improved Wallabies scrum as they prevailed 45-20 over Los Pumas in Canberra in their last start.

But a week earlier they were troubled by the Springboks, who rolled off the back of a number of scrum penalties to surge from 20-10 down and secure a draw in Perth.

“We took the foot off the throat a little bit,” Kepu said ahead of Sunday morning’s (AEST) clash in Bloemfontein.

“I felt in that first half we did well to put some pressure on them and I think we were a bit unlucky with some of those decisions.

“It’s the challenge of finishing teams and nullifying those little issues before it actually happens.

“We spoke about all those things and worked on it against Argentina… (but) there’s still improvement there and by no means are we happy with that.

“Now again, it’s back to the Boks.

“We’ve got to fix what we didn’t do in the second half.”

Set piece is traditionally South Africa’s biggest strength but surprisingly, they have the Rugby Championship’s least effective scrum after four rounds.

Kepu said those statistics were deceiving, insisting it held up well against the All Blacks despite copping a 57-0 belting in Albany.

“This season in particular, they’ve put a lot of teams to the sword,” he said.

Kepu scored a try in Australia’s late onslaught against Argentina, the fourth time he has crossed the white stripe in his Test career.

It pulled him level with Ben Alexander as the Wallabies’ top try-scoring prop in history.

“The last one on the weekend was purely the work from our fellow front-rowers,” Kepu said.

“They clean passed the ball and I actually saw it there and accelerated like it was a bar of chocolate.

“Noone (was) there so I knew I had to get the try or else I was in trouble because I was by myself.”

Phipps hails Australia’s "main man" Foley

Nick Phipps has paid a glowing tribute to Bernard Foley’s leadership skills and standard-bearing role as the Wallabies vice-captain prepares to notch his 50th Test cap.

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Five-eighth Foley will reach the milestone in Sunday morning’s (AEST) Rugby Championship clash against South Africa in Bloemfontein.

His long-time offsider at the NSW Waratahs and in the Test team, halfback Phipps said the 28-year-old has matured and developed into one of the team’s most important figures.

Foley has been the most vocal player at Australia’s training base in Johannesburg this week, barking out instructions and keeping his teammates on their toes – and Phipps said it was having a huge impact.

“To be honest, my fondest memories (of Foley) would be the last two years, mainly this year,” Phipps said.

“He said at the start of the year he wants to be a better leader and the way he’s been able to slip into that role as vice-captain and really start to lead the team around – that maturity he’s developed over the last few years – has really enabled him to be our main guy, our main man.

“(He’s) the guy that’s calling the shots and really being hard and strong on the style we want to play.

“It’s great to see him reaping the rewards of that at the moment.”

Phipps is likely to retain his spot on the bench as back-up to Will Genia for the match against the Springboks at the Free State Stadium.

It will be an important gig in light of the lung-busting nature of rugby on the Highveld and one Phipps said he was relishing.

“I think that’s one of Michael Cheika’s biggest things,” he said.

“He wants those reserves, those finishers to come on the field and really add that spark and energy.

“It’s something we’re quite proud of, our bench – we want to try and be one of the best benches in the world to be able to close out a game or get us back into it.

“Especially (with) a lot of our newer players coming in off the bench, (to) give them that guidance is something that I really enjoy doing.

“Cheik’s had a good chat with me, that’s the role I can fulfil at the moment.”

Ogilvy backs Scott to lead from the front

Internationals assistant captain Geoff Ogilvy believes Adam Scott’s desperation to end his Presidents Cup hoodoo could be the push the Internationals need to finally get over the line.

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In his eighth Cup appearance, equalling Vijay Singh and Ernie Els as the most capped Internationals, Scott is seen as the spiritual leader for the underdogs.

But the 37-year-old Australian is yet to taste victory at the biennial teams event, with a tie on his Cup debut in 2003 preceding six consecutive defeats at the hands of the Americans.

Scott produced a spirited performance in the Sunday singles at the 2015 Cup, thrashing American star Rickie Fowler 6-and-5, but the Internationals lost by one point in Korea.

Former US Open winner Ogilvy said countryman Scott is determined to end the American dynasty.

“Nobody wants to win the Presidents Cup more than Scotty; he’s seen more defeats than anyone and he’s very, very fired up,” Ogilvy told AAP on Tuesday.

Captain Nick Price said Scott’s passion would be essential to the Internationals’ hopes of defeating an American teamed lined with big guns such as Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas.

“He’s more of a motivator than anything else. Adam is usually a very quiet guy but when he does speak, it is with such conviction, intent and passion that they listen,” said Price.

“You need that inspiration because you can take a team without a whole lot of superstars, that has a lot of team spirit, and they can overcome just about anything.”

Scott endured a winless 2017 season and didn’t feature in the majors other than a tie for ninth at the Masters.

But a respectable year saw him record nine top-15 finishes from 16 events.

The Queensland native and wife Marie welcomed their second child, Byron, on the Gold Coast in August before Scott made a late dash to Boston for the second FedEx Cup play-offs event, where he missed the cut and was bundled out of the US PGA Tour’s post-season.

Ogilvy, who played for the Internationals on three occasions, is confident Scott will arrive with good form following another three week break in Australia.

“Scotty is such a class act and he’s always been great coming off a break. He’ll hit the ground running,” said Ogilvy.

Price added: “”(Expecting) a second child, it’s a huge thing in anyone’s life. Now that’s over I think Adam is ready to go and play golf. There’s no doubt,” said Price.

The Presidents Cup will be held at New Jersey’s Liberty National golf course, starting September 28.