Tiger welcomes pressure to perform

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AFL: Its taken a while but Eddie Maguire has finally apologised for comments he made towards journalist Caroline Wilson.

Shaun Hampson jostles for position with Suns ruckman Tom Nicholls. Picture: Getty Image

RICHMOND ruckman Shaun Hampson says he has the Tigers’ former top tapman to thank for keeping him at the top of his game.

The 28-year-old — who played just four games last season — has missed only one game so far this year and has impressed in his transition from whipping boy to coach Damien Hardwick’s preferred option for tap duties.

Ivan Maric, who has been playing VFL, has long been the Tigers’ No.1 ruck and while he has battled to find his way back into the side, Hampson said that pressure to perform is spurring him on.

“I’m relatively happy (with my form), but I still think there is a lot of improvement in my game,” Hampson said, crediting both experience and the double ankle reconstruction he had last year for adding leg strength.

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“I am (enjoying the stability). Ivvy’s been playing really well, as he does, and that pressure’s always there which is probably even more incentive to keep playing well.

“He’s just such a great team man. It’s competitive at training, but I think it helps to improve the both of us.”

While the focus is firmly on Brisbane this weekend, Hampson did admit that belief that the team can still reach the finals still burns.

“You never lose belief, if you’re still mathematically a chance,” he said.

Shaun Hampson completes some ruck drills with Ivan Maric at training. Picture: Mark Stewart

Shaun Hampson completes some ruck drills with Ivan Maric at training. Picture: Mark StewartSource:News Corp Australia

“We’ve proven in the past that you can do it, but the focus is just the next game.”

Hampson took the opportunity for a mini-break to Hepburn Springs over the bye and is feeling refreshed ahead of Saturday’s clash with the Lions.

He said the Tigers went full tilt over the weekend to ensure they aren’t hampered by having a week off against a team that played.

“I don’t think it matters too much either way (whether you’ve played or had a bye),” he said.

“We still had a hard training session on the weekend that was game-like, so in our minds it’s like we played a game and we thought that was the best way to prepare for the weekend.”

He also admitted the bye round had come at a great time for skipper Trent Cotchin, who was in hospital before the team’s Round 12 clash with Gold Coast with a kidney infection.

Defender Bachar Houli trained on Tuesday and is expected to be out of his wrist guard next week, while Ben Lennon could be less than a fortnight away from returning after having shoulder surgery three weeks ago.

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