Tigers look to cope without Rance in AFL

Alex Rance, who was injured in last week's AFL clash with Carlton, is a massive loss for the Tigers.
Alex Rance, who was injured in last week's AFL clash with Carlton, is a massive loss for the Tigers.

Alex Rance is so valuable to Richmond, it's going to take 22 AFL teammates to replace him.

Rance will undergo his knee reconstruction on Tuesday and will miss the rest of the season after his injury during Thursday night's round-one win over Carlton.

The key defender is the only player to make the last five All-Australian teams and his absence is a massive blow to the Tigers' premiership hopes.

But coach Damien Hardwick said they think they can find a way.

"Alex is irreplaceable, let's be honest. We cannot replace (him), he's that good a player that you can't just slot in another player," Hardwick told AFL360.

"Then we spoke as a group - it's up to 22 of us to fulfil the role of him.

"We're not expecting one player to come in and be able to get close to what that player can represent.

"It's an opportunity for us as a team to find another way."

Hardwick said it is galling that Rance was hurt in an innocuous marking contest.

"You think about the way this guy plays the game and for an incident such as that to bring about his downfall - this guy's Hercules, the way he throws around his body," he said.

Rance continues to amaze Hardwick with his reaction to the injury, staying upbeat and supporting his teammates.

"It made me feel guilty, I was feeling sorry for us," Hardwick said.

"He was in (at the club) the next day, he's that sort of person.

"He's well-and-truly entrenched and wants to help the boys become what they need to be."

While Hardwck said it would be crazy for Richmond not to use Rance in some sort of support role for the team, he is worried about the defender's enthusiasm.

"He's going to be rocking up in his Tommy Hafey gear," Hardwick joked, referring to the legendary Richmond coach.

Australian Associated Press