The call that kept Rance from becoming a Hawk
He became one of the greatest defenders in Richmond history, but Alex Rance could have been lost to Hawthorn if not for the intervention of Justin Leppitsch.
After being drafted with the 18th pick of the 2007 draft, Rance had been in and out of Richmond's best side in his first three seasons under the tutelage of Terry Wallace.
When Wallace was replaced by Damien Hardwick in 2010, the new Tigers coach was ready to unload the man who would become the leader of his premiership back six to Hawthorn in a trade deal which would have netted a paltry return.
However, before making the call, Hardwick decided to consult his assistant Leppitsch, a great defender in his own right in the Brisbane Lions' triple-premiership sides.
"Dimma rang me about it, I just sort of said, and it might have been one of my first years and I hadn't really done enough work with him yet, and I just said to Dimma, 'He's 6 foot 4, he's athletic, just give me some time with him, and lets get him out on the track'," Leppitsch told the Sacked podcast.
"I think my first year he had been a bit of back, a bit of forward and a bit of mid, we hadn't really nailed him yet, it was more that second season when we are able to get our hands on him.
"He would have been a loss. I think it was a third rounder, somewhere in the 40s (for a trade) and I thought, 'Gee, only for that' ... we had no salary cap debt back then. If it's a pick in the 40s or Alex Rance, just give me Alex Rance'."
Rance would eventually morph into a five-time All-Australian defender and be regarded as one of the greatest defenders in AFL history.
While Richmond CEO Brendon Gale ruled out a return for Rance after his shock retirement last year, Leppitsch said that the COVID-19 hiatus could usher in a Rance return.
However, Leppitsch suggested that returning for a rival club, rather than Richmond, was more likely.
"I don't know, sometimes the further you move away from it, the harder it is to come back, that's all I would say," he said.
"If he does, is it at Richmond or is it somewhere else?
"Is it a change of environment that will help him? I think now that this has happened with the virus, it has probably changed everyone's perspective as well."