'We wrap our arms around Katie': Tigers support under-siege skipper

UNDER-fire Richmond skipper Katie Brennan has been offered the support of her entire club, with coach Tom Hunter revealing AFL counterpart Damien Hardwick and head of football Tim Livingstone had been in contact with the star. 

It's been a rough opening start to the season for the 27-year-old, who was promised more midfield time after sensationally crossing from the Western Bulldogs where she was also captain and primarily a power forward.

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Brennan, who has been hindered by a series of serious ankle injuries in previous seasons, is still averaging a career-high 13 disposals this year off the back of three games.

Katie Brennan hasn't let criticism stop her enjoying leading the Tigers team. Picture: AFL Photos

She came under media scrutiny following last week's loss to Gold Coast, where she picked up 14 disposals playing mostly in the middle and was caught by cameras bumping opponent Jamie Stanton's injured shoulder.

The Sun had returned to the field after copping a blow to the joint at half-time. The targeting of an injured area is often seen as a grey area in football, with some fiercely against the practice and others believing if a player has taken to the field, they should be considered fully fit.

Stanton had a best-on-ground performance, picking up nine AFLCA votes.

Brennan responded on Sunday with a 14-disposal, one-goal performance against a vastly superior North Melbourne side, splitting her time between the middle and up forward.

"It certainly was a difficult week, but we wrap our arms around Katie, and that's just internally in terms of the girls and the staff, but also the wider footy club," Hunter said.

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"'Dimma' (Hardwick) touches base with her, 'Livo' (Livingstone) touches base with her, we really want to make sure she feels well supported. I thought she played her role today.

"Dimma gave her a call when the (News Corp) article came out. Katie's always in and around the club, so she's got good relationships with people in the men's department, and us as well, and the footy department which does both men's and women's."

Katie Brennan is used to pressure on and off the field. Picture: AFL Photos

Hunter forecast a bigger mix of attack and on-ball for Brennan as the season progresses.

"There was a little more opportunity to go forward and have an impact there, and I think we got the balance right for her as a midfielder and as a forward," Hunter said.

"We want to support her through the midfield, we know what a quality player she is around the football, so we'll give her every chance to be successful there, but also balance that with up forward or on the wing, wherever it may be."

North Melbourne coach Scott Gowans – who coached against Brennan in the VFLW when he was at Diamond Creek and she represented Darebin – said he was prepared for a fired-up Brennan in their round three meeting.

Brennan was a popular player and leader at the Western Bulldogs. Picture: AFL Photos

"We mentioned it before the game. Just with my experience with Katie Brennan, I was super worried. She's a great player, she's really good for the game, but I've been on the end of a few Katie Brennan thrashings over the years, so I was really mindful of her today," Gowans said.

"We mentioned it from the perspective of making sure she's manned up, not letting her get some running chains of footy – if she got a possession, not allowing her to let her double up and get the hands back.

"From a football lover, I hope she remembers she's a superstar, and it will turn for her at some stage.

"I don't think (the positioning mix at Richmond) is too dissimilar to what she's done. The Bulldogs probably played her more forward, but from my perspective in the VFLW, she was always a mid-forward and dangerous in both spots. I get what Tommy (Hunter)'s trying to do with that."