Dylan Grimes has battled persistent hamstring problems in recent years, most recently requiring surgery to repair a split in the tendon in November last year.
He said the increased depth of the backline, improved further by the acquisition of Troy Chaplin and Ricky Petterd, had helped him narrow his focus to his own recovery and regain confidence in his body.
“It wasn’t easy, that’s for sure, but the good thing is in previous years if we had a player go down, it might have been more of a issue on field,” he said.
“It would have left a hole in the 22.
“With such depth this year, there were guys who were able to come in and fill my spot quite easily and it allowed me to just focus on myself and my rehab to get myself right for this year. It was really positive.”
He also said while he was confident he was past the persistent complaints, there were some parts of his journey back to fitness that were hard to handle.
“I reckon every emotional footballer has doubts when they go through a long-term injury, but the club’s been really good at keeping me grounded and instilling confidence in my body,” he said.
“I couldn’t really think like that for too long because they were always pushing me to get ready and get back for this year.”
Meanwhile, Grimes said he felt empathy for older brother and Melbourne co-captain Jack, given the Demons’ on-field struggles.
He said Jack was dealing with the situation well.
“I wish Melbourne were doing as well as Richmond are at the moment,” he said.
“They’re in a similar spot to what we were. They’re in the rebuilding phase of their development and I reckon I’ve still got a bit of a soft spot for Melbourne and I do wish them all the best.
“If I could liken Jack to anyone, it would be Trent Cotchin with the way he sort of handles the pressure. He’s got a really mature head on his shoulders, and I think he’s handling it really well – as good as he could be.
“I called him last week and he didn’t even tell me he was going to re-sign so he’s not giving away much at the moment.”