Lynch call vindicated with ultimate prize
Boom Richmond forward Tom Lynch said the hardest decision of his football life - choosing a new home after deciding to leave Gold Coast - allowed him to live out a childhood dream of winning an AFL flag.
Lynch, 26, got to share the success with his great mate and former Suns teammate Dion Prestia, who also played in the Tigers' 2017 flag.
The pair were drafted within two picks of each other (Prestia at nine and Lynch at 11 in the 2010 draft) and toasted each other as premiership teammates.
"It's obviously great, we spent a lot of time together on the Gold Coast," Lynch said of Prestia.
"To get back here and win one with him is just so special."
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A beaming Lynch, who held together the Tigers' attack early in the season in the absence of Jack Riewoldt, couldn't be more pleased with his debut year at Punt Rd.
He kicked 63 goals for the year, bagged a premiership medal and slotted seamlessly into the Richmond system.
"It was very hard (the decision to leave the Suns) … I wasn't sure what I was going to do, but as soon as I stepped into the Richmond Football Club, I knew I made 110 per cent the right decision," he said.
"I love this footy club. They have taken me in and you can see how close we are as a team.
"I still can't believe we have won it. Walking around the lap of honour was unbelievable.
"Every kid growing up wants to win an AFL Grand Final. It is always a dream but you never think it is going to be a reality."
Lynch's father, Peter, said his son made instant connections at Richmond, which played a part in his outstanding debut season in yellow and black.
"He has had a great year because of the club and because he is home in Melbourne with his family," Peter Lynch said.
"He has had a smile on his face the whole time. He is just so happy. Richmond is an amazing organisation."
Tom Lynch said he wasn't surprised the club opted to select Marlion Pickett to debut in a Grand Final, given what the players knew he could bring to the big game.
"He was ready to play and I was confident he was going to perform," he said.
"When he kicked that goal (in the third quarter), that was unbelievable."
"He is a great guy and he has come over and worked his a--- off. He had the respect of the group from day one and to debut in a Grand Final is amazing."
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RIEWOLDT'S PLAN TO GET OUT OF LYNCH'S WAY
Jack Riewoldt's game underwent one radical change to accommodate Tom Lynch this season - get out of his way.
Riewoldt slaughtered Greater Western Sydney with five goals in Saturday's Grand Final but said Richmond's forwards wanted to make Lynch the big banana in 2019.
"Get out of his way - that's it," Riewoldt said.
"He attracts the ball so well that part of my role, and the other forwards, is to isolate him because we know how damaging he can be.
"So I've been working on my craft and trying to get different avenues to goal and furthermore trying to develop his game along with Alex Rance.
"We feel like we've done that, he's had an impact on the biggest stage when we needed him to."
Riewoldt kicked 24 goals from 13 games this season while Lynch bagged 63 from 25 matches in his first season at Punt Rd.
Three of Riewoldt's Grand Final bag came in the second quarter, when he burst the game open one week after being held goalless as queries over his form were raised.
Riewoldt, 30, chewed on a burger and held the premiership cup in his left hand as he spoke in the rooms.
The popular spearhead said he felt "euphoria" when holding six-month-old daughter Poppy on the MCG just after the final siren.
Riewoldt said "people power" drove the change at Tigerland with the club transforming from a laughing stock to a superpower in recent years.
"We're just a bloody good club, we've got a bloody good culture, we've got some really good leaders and a bloody good bunch of blokes," he said.
"Everyone's spoken about the end of 2016, and our leaders really stood up.
"They're strong leaders - Peggy, Brendan, the coach, Trent, guided the path and vice-captains in myself and Alex jumped on board and everyone else followed."
Riewoldt said the injured players who missed out on yesterday's glory - Jack Graham (shoulder), Jack Higgins (brain surgery) and Alex Rance (knee) - shouldn't feel excluded.
"You do (feel for them) but it ain't about the medal around our neck," Riewoldt said.
"It's all about the premiership cup. It's got our name written on it - Richmond".