'Mini' McQualter ready to lead Richmond as caretaker

·2-min read
Darren England/AAP PHOTOS

A former AFL journeyman who was once a Gold Coast teammate of star Tigers Tom Lynch and Dion Prestia, new Richmond caretaker coach Andrew "Mini'' McQualter is ready for his time in the sun.

McQualter, a highly rated assistant coach who has had roles at Richmond for a decade, will lead the Tigers until season's end after three-time premiership coach Damien Hardwick's shock departure.

"He's been a senior coach in waiting for a number of years now," co-captain Dylan Grimes told reporters on Tuesday.

"'Mini', he's got one of those technical brains that continues to surprise you by the detail that he sees in the game.

"But then the balance of what makes a really good coach is the relationships and being able to get the most out of those around them.

"Being a senior coach is about managing people and communicating the complex in a simple way, and Mini does that almost better than anyone.

"He's been chomping at the bit for an opportunity, and it's great to see him get it."

When he joined Richmond in 2014, McQualter was originally a development coach while playing VFL with the Tigers, but made his mark as midfield coach in their breakthrough 2017 flag.

The 36-year-old is less than two years older than Richmond veteran Jack Riewoldt and has his first crack at a senior role 11 years after finishing his career as a 27-year-old at the Suns.

A former No.17 draft pick at St Kilda, McQualter proved more a role player.

He played in three grand finals - for two losses and a draw - under Ross Lyon, who delisted him twice.

McQualter added five games at the Suns in 2012 to his 89 across seven seasons at St Kilda, before moving into coaching.

When asked what stood out about McQualter, co-captain Toby Nankervis said: "Just the way he sees the game.

"His attention to detail, the way he presents, the way he motivates, his relationships and his energy.

"There's so many strengths to Mini and I'm really excited by the opportunity to play under Mini.

"I'm sure he'll do a great job, and we're still hungry to succeed this year.

"I'm not sure what that looks like, but turning up tomorrow, we'll be dead-set on playing our best footy against Port Adelaide at the MCG on Sunday and I can't wait.''

McQualter and the Tigers will have to get straight down to business.

"We want the day today to celebrate 'Dimma' (Hardwick) and almost in a weird way mourn not being able to have him as coach this week," Grimes said.

"But this week we have to be in a position to perform against a really quality team."