‘Smelling the roses’: Tigers champ enjoying every moment ahead of game 300

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Key points

  • Trent Cotchin will play his 300th game on Saturday night against St Kilda. 
  • Cotchin is a triple premiership captain, Brownlow medallist and three-time club champion.
  • The 33-year-old stopped short of revealing when his brilliant career will come to an end.

There was no mention of the “r” word – just a lot of skirting around it – as Trent Cotchin spoke about becoming just the sixth Tiger to play 300 matches this Saturday night against St Kilda.

Cotchin talked about “smelling the roses” this year, but was careful to leave enough doubt about his intentions, other than as good as slamming the door on a post-playing coaching career, beyond the Aberfeldie under-10s.

Trent Cotchin and former Richmond coach Damien Hardwick were at the forefront of the Tigers’ golden era.Credit: AFL Photos

This was a celebration of a player who is a Richmond champion through and through, with four of the five Tigers to achieve the 300-game milestone – Kevin Bartlett, Francis Bourke, Jack Riewoldt and Shane Edwards – in attendance.

Cotchin’s legacy is already cemented as a triple-premiership captain, Brownlow medallist, three-time club champion and All-Australian.

But the 33-year-old, with his wife Brooke and children Mackenzie, Parker and Harper listening, said he strived to be so much more than a football icon. One of the enduring images of Cotchin will be him picking up rubbish in the Richmond rooms – long after everyone else had gone – after their 2017 qualifying final defeat of Geelong.

The Tigers won the first of their three flags in four years in the weeks after that, achieving what Cotchin, Riewoldt and Edwards once feared openly to one another was never going to be their fate.

Cotchin will play game 300 this weekend.Credit: Eddie Jim

“I’m really proud of what this footy club’s managed to do, particularly in our most challenging times but also the successful periods,” Cotchin said.

“A lot of what I tried to do was be a really good human being, and that’s probably what I’m most proud of. I think I can hand on heart say that’s what I strive to be every single day.

“My absolute priority has always been my family, and it always will be my family. But the way that the Richmond footy club has become sort of a wider part of that family is what’s really special to me.”

Cotchin offered an anecdote of him charging as hard as ever at a contested ball in training on Thursday against young teammate Tyler Sonsie, before saying his time would be up if he lost that desire.

Cotchin alongside Richmond greats Shane Edwards, Kevin Bartlett, Francis Bourke and Jack Riewoldt.Credit: Getty Images

The obvious question came next: does that mean you might play on next year? Cotchin dodged that one with as much skill as he did rival midfielders across the years, but there were still lessons to learn from his answer.

“I’m not putting a ceiling on anything,” he said. “Jack and I have had plenty of conversations this year, where it’s about really smelling the roses and enjoying each moment. We’ve shared moments where we’ve looked at each other, and we know that that’s a time to take in and celebrate, be present. You can get caught up in all the hoopla around what’s next, but, really, we’re just trying to celebrate what is right now.”

What is obvious is that Cotchin is much closer to the end than the start.

He arrived at Punt Road at the end of 2007 as a hyped prospect, the No.2 draft pick behind his ex-Northern Knights teammate Matthew Kreuzer, who went to Carlton, and turned into one of the AFL’s best, yet he was lauded in the premiership years for his selfless style.

Cotchin and his family at the press conference for his 300th game.Credit: Eddie Jim

“I was always someone who wanted to get the absolute best out of himself, but maybe put a bit too much pressure [on myself],” Cotchin said.

“I think it’s been documented that I probably suffered from the perfection myth. I wanted to be the perfect player, perfect teammate, perfect captain when I was named captain, perfect husband, father, son.

“The reality is that perfection doesn’t actually exist. For me, it’s OK to strive for perfection but having that acceptance and knowledge that it’s not actually something that exists is really empowering for someone to … [not] feel like they’re letting people down.”

Cotchin’s milestone week gave him the chance, by his own admission, to reflect on his brilliant career more than he ever has. He was also presented the opportunity on Thursday to ponder how hard it will be to leave it all behind, at some stage in the near future.

“[No longer] walking in every morning and knowing you’re going to have 40-odd of your mates, plus staff, who you build really special relationships with across a long period of time, is probably going to be the hardest part of letting go,” Cotchin said.

“But I’m really excited about the next phase of life. So much of our life as a family has been focused on me, and what’s best for me.

“I also think I do a pretty good job of putting the kids and Brooke at the forefront of my thinking. It’s very much going to be my focus moving forward, once it does come.”

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