Patience a virtue for Grimes

Dylan Grimes1In an increasingly impatient world, it’s refreshing that Dylan Grimes is being rewarded for displaying the old-fashioned virtue of patience.

This season has been a case in point for the injury-plagued Richmond defender.

As Grimes

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enjoyed the best of his five pre-seasons at Richmond, there were alarm bells when he suffered another hamstring problem in early February.

Serious hamstring injuries had sidelined him for much of the 2011-12 seasons. A foot stress fracture had cost another 11 games last year.

However, Grimes overcame this hamstring issue to be selected in the Tigers’ round-two blockbuster against Carlton at the MCG.

He played four games in a row, and in round six was generally deemed to have done well to restrict Hawthorn sharpshooter Jack Gunston to just two goals in a 66-point loss.

The Richmond selectors didn’t agree and Grimes was sent back to the VFL.

After two games in the seconds, played either side of a bye, Grimes forced his way back into the Tigers line-up and, aside from missing the round 12 clash with North Melbourne due to a toe injury, has remained a member of Richmond’s back six since.

In his initial return from VFL exile in round 10, he kept Greater Western Sydney’s young star Jeremy Cameron to just one goal as the Tigers romped to a 113-point win.

Logically, there has been a correlation between continuity and performance.

“This season is the most consistent I’ve had in terms of just being out on the field,” he told AFL.com.au after Richmond’s 44-point win over St Kilda at Etihad Stadium on Saturday.

“It’s great just to string some games together and get some confidence back in my body.

“Previously, I’d always had those doubts – ‘Is my body going to hold up in the dying minutes? Am I at risk?’ That stuff can really play on your mind.

“But the body’s feeling great and it’s no coincidence that the form line is starting to improve as well.”

One of the factors, Grimes suspects, is that he is playing 3kgs lighter than last year, largely to play more of a running role than a key post.

“I think this role suits me a little bit more, and as a result there’s probably less load going through the limbs, which is a good result too,” he said.

Grimes, who will turn 23 on July 16, was also forced to be patient for his first AFL goal, which he finally slotted against the Saints in his 36th game.

“It felt a bit awkward lining up, so it was a good feeling when it went through. It’s taken me almost 40 games to get it,” he said about his second-quarter effort that prompted his teammates to mob him.

“The guys were providing a lot of run off half-back so that gave me the opportunity to get a bit further up the ground than what I normally do.”

Given his relative youth and versatility, it’s easy to see an injury-free Grimes being an integral part of the Tigers’ defence for much of the next decade. He believes he has plenty of improvement left in him.

“Hopefully the sky’s the limit. I want to improve in a lot of areas,” he said.

Grimes has played nine games in 2014 and will notch double figures for the first time in a season when Richmond hosts another lowly opponent, the Brisbane Lions, at the MCG next Saturday afternoon.

The Tigers beat the Lions by 43 points at the Gabba in round five – the memory of which, Grimes says, will give his team further confidence.

“We had a good result against them up there so we’re hoping to repeat that effort this time,” he said. “We played a really exciting brand of football and hopefully we can do it again to get a win against Justin Leppitsch, my old defensive coach.”

Like most defenders in the AFL, Grimes is glad Lions great Jonathan Brown has retired.

“I’m not going to lie – it’s a bit of a relief that he won’t be playing,” he said.

“He’s an absolute star of the game and I’ve got the utmost respect for him. He’s pretty good on the lip too, so it’s nice not to have to worry about him any more.

“I played in his last milestone game – his 250th game – so I’ll always remember that.

“But they’ll restructure without him and we’ll need to be on our game to get the result we want.”