If Richmond are looking for people to build a statue of after the club’s breakthrough AFL premiership, Trent Cotchin will almost certainly be at the top of the list.
There will never be another Jack ‘Captain Blood’ Dyer, whose status as a club icon was immortalised in 2003 when his death prompted a bronze likeness to be erected outside Punt Rd Oval.
But Cotchin’s class and captaincy will be remembered and revered every time the tale of the Tigers’ 2017 turnaround — and any future success — is told.
Coach Damien Hardwick became emotional when talking about Cotchin’s work as a midfielder, motivator and match winner this September.
“I sort of choke up a little bit speaking about this guy. About what he means to me and means to our football club,” Hardwick told reporters.
“He’s a freak. I love what he does, I love how he’s led the club.
“He’s an incredible player and we’re very lucky to have him.”
The feeling is mutual.
“I don’t know if there would be a prouder person (of Damien Hardwick), other than Mrs Hardwick,” Cotchin said.
“He’s a special person and I’m just so rapt for him.”
Cotchin epitomised leadership throughout this year’s finals series, crashing packs and the opposition’s best-laid plans.
“I don’t know what his possessions were today but he would have had 15 ‘smashes’. He was just a battering ram,” Hardwick said.
Off the field, Cotchin has been just as immense.
Footage of the 27-year-old cleaning up the Tigers’ changerooms after their qualifying-final win went viral.
It is that sort of mindset that has rubbed off on so many teammates.
Hardwick noted Dustin Martin would not be the player he is without Cotchin’s influence.
“Not anywhere near,” Hardwick said, detailing how it hurt to see Cotchin cop so much criticism during the Tigers’ recent failures.
“He’s been enormous in that aspect (of improving the club culture).”
Not even Hardwick believed the Tigers were capable of winning the 2017 premiership at this point last year, when a 13th-placed finish prompted an aborted board challenge.
“I was confident if we played our best we’d make finals … a premiership cup? I’d have said you’re kidding yourself,” he said.
“I get the plaudits because I’m the coach but .. a lot of people are responsible for us winning that premiership cup.
“I’ve got an outstanding bunch of assistant coaches, they’ve inspired me.
“The players grabbed it and ran with it.”