Touching moment from Tigers for player in agony
AFL fans witnessed one of the most heart-wrenching moments of the season on Friday night, followed by one of the most heartwarming.
Injury-cursed Richmond midfielder Reece Conca lasted only 15 minutes in his 100th game before appearing to snap his ankle in a horrific incident against Sydney at Etihad Stadium.
Conca's screams of agony could be clearly heard on the TV broadcast and the game stopped for several minutes while he was stretchered from the field as he sucked on painkillers.
But before he left, every Richmond player went unprompted to Conca to show him their support, with star forward Daniel Rioli planting a kiss on his teammate's forehead.
Also unnoticed by many was the gesture of Sydney's Gary Rohan, who also spoke to Conca before he left the field. Rohan suffering a horror broken leg on the field in 2012.
Richmond hero Jack Riewoldt, who took a career-high 16 marks and kicked three goals in a best-on-ground performance, said of the injury after the game: "To be honest, the only way to sum it up is: it sucks.
"It's a cruel game, footy," he told 3AW. "It looked like a pretty severe injury."
Legendary footy journalist Mike Sheahan described what happened next as "a powerful moment".
"All the Richmond blokes going over to him, and Daniel Rioli bending down and giving him a kiss - the camaraderie at Richmond was there for all to see," he said on SEN.
The powerful bond between Richmond players was one of the key factors in their stunning 2017 premiership win and Melbourne champion Garry Lyon said Friday night's unprompted actions showed "it isn't contrived in any way".
Tigers coach Damien Hardwick said: "I thought it was a pretty touching moment, it probably sums up our footy club, to see all of the players get to him. They just all got a touch on him, which is important."
Hardwick said the Tigers didn't know the exact nature of the injury, holding out hope it may not be as bad as first thought.
"It was really disappointing for Reece," he said.
"We're not exactly sure of the extent of the injury at the moment. He'll miss some footy, there's no doubt about that, but the severity of it … we're not exactly sure.
"He's a very popular member of our football club. We really do wish him a speedy recovery, because he's an important player for us."
Defender Jayden Short said the Tigers were determined to win for their injured teammate.
"To see him go down like that in his 100th game, with all the injuries he has been through is pretty upsetting," Short told foxfooty.com.au after the Tigers' 26-point win cemented the side as premiership favourites.
"We said, 'We want to win this for Reece'. We played as well as we could and got the win for Reece.
"It is so disappointing. Reece is an absolute character of the club and one of the most liked blokes.
"He will be back better than ever. It was disappointing to see, but we will get around him."