Recovery and hub life, with Richmond star Kane Lambert

Richmond had every right to feel satisfied after a 41-point win over Brisbane at the Gabba on Tuesday night.

Dispatching a fellow premiership contender on their own turf, the Tigers sent an ominous warning to the rest of the competition that they are rounding into peak form.

Their reward? A four-day break and a meeting with ladder leaders Port Adelaide on Saturday night.

Two-time premiership player Kane Lambert walked ESPN through life in Richmond's Queensland hub, and what exactly happens from game to game during the compressed 2020 fixture.


After a quick debrief in the visitors' rooms, the Tigers jump on a bus and head back to their hub near Metricon Stadium in Carrara where the recovery process immediately begins.

"The best part about footy is spending that time together after the game and having a bit of a laugh, and chatting about the things that might have happened during the game," Lambert tells ESPN.

"We come back to hub pretty quickly and get our water-based recovery together and have a meal together in the common area. Boys can then head up to their rooms when they feel like it.

"It's good here because we are all around each other and you can connect with guys that have a similar process to you post-game. Some boys will retire to their room pretty quickly and others will sit around and chat ... it's up to each individual."

Wednesday is a lighter day, with postgame recovery continuing for the players, while coaching staff review film from the night before.

Lambert says the recovery process is as mental as it is physical.

"We are fortunate here because we are reasonably close to the ocean, so we have that option which is really nice to get in the salt water. It's just about keeping moving - it's quite easy to be sedentary and you'll find you'll stiffen up more, so we are encouraged to keep moving," Lambert says.

"It's more about the mental side, you come down from a game and then you have to build yourself up really quickly, so it's more about getting mental release than anything."

The combination of COVID-19 protocols and short breaks provides a significant challenge for scheduling skills-based training, particularly without a VFL season in 2020.

"It's more about the individual," Lambert says. "The staff will provide a plan for what we should do. We have players that aren't playing, so it does become difficult with the sessions to cater to the needs of everyone and obviously with the protocols and smaller groups as well.

"This week was more about getting ourselves going, a little bit more learning-based but it's important we are switched on."

By Thursday, the attention of those practical learning sessions had flipped to Port Adelaide, with just over 48 hours remaining to first bounce.

Lambert admits the limited time on the training track likely impacted performance early in the season but as the weeks roll on, players have become accustomed to the new restrictions and make-up of the week's 'main session'.

"You don't get that physical contact, which is ok with the shorter breaks but it's a limitation. The groups of nine [at training], the cohesion, the chemistry takes a little while ... we do get to spend a lot of time together."

Significant benefits of hub life include recovery facilities and medical staff on hand along with the ability to build chemistry in the group, but Lambert concedes finding time to separate yourself from the AFL bubble in free time is also a crucial mental element.

"It's hard to speak on what [a compressed fixture would be like] back home but the one thing is that we all enjoy other's company, we have a great connection and we build off each other," he says.

"[But] you can also get caught in a trap because we are all here together you feel like you've got to spend time with each other all the time and you don't take time out for yourself to regenerate."

Friday brings the major team meeting for the week before the traditional captain's run, when the selected team hits the track for one last time before game day.

"Most of our opposition analysis happens in that team meeting before our captain's run," he says. "Now we just have time to ourselves to prepare. We always have awareness of what our opposition bring but first and foremost we have to bring the Richmond system and the Richmond intent."

Some players will hang out in common areas with their teammates, some will spend time with family that have joined them in the hub, some will choose to get their mind right in their room alone - Lambert stresses the importance of keeping pre-game routines as normal as possible given the circumstances.

Richmond will fly into Adelaide on Saturday morning and head straight from the airport to Adelaide Oval for a 4:15pm local time start.

Despite the compressed schedule, the 104-game veteran feels he is in good physical shape heading into the vital clash that can further cement the Tigers spot in the top four.

"On a personal level, I haven't taken too much notice but now there is a huge cluster of games we might feel a bit more fatigue," Lambert said.

"This is where you trust the conditioning staff and how they prepare us. The shorter games also make it easier to back up these games but the accumulative load I think will start to set in.

"At the moment it's okay but as the season gets longer the fatigue might set it in."

A team representative confirmed the Tigers will fly back to their Queensland hub late on Sunday night after the North Melbourne vs. Melbourne game concludes.

Of course, recovery will once again be vital, because by the time they wake up on Monday morning they will need to prepare for their next game, against the improving Gold Coast.