Joker Rance serious about finals footy

Craig O'Donoghue Melbourne

If Carlton's forwards peered into Richmond's change rooms at training this week, they would be stunned by the behaviour of Alex Rance.

The man who breathes fire on game day and is locked into a state of intensity spends the week laughing, playing practical jokes on teammates and trying to stay relaxed. It's only when he crosses the white line that his serious side comes out.

"I muck around a fair bit," Rance said. "I'm a bit of a larrikin around the club. I definitely won't be quiet, intense and kept away. I'll be getting around the boys and making them laugh.

"Once it comes to game day I start to switch on and know my role and go from there.

"You can't be on all the time.

"You need to know when to have a mental break and when to be the concentrated and aggressive beast that you want to be in defence."

Rance will be a key Tiger in Sunday's elimination final against the Blues at the MCG.

He has set his sights on Lachie Henderson and is annoyed that he conceded three goals to the big Blue in round 21.

Alex, the son of Swan Districts premiership star, West Coast captain and Western Bulldogs player Murray Rance, won't have to look too far for finals advice.

Rance Sr won three consecutive flags with Swan Districts, the first of which came when he played at centre half-forward as a 20-year-old.

Relaxed during the week and a competitor on game day like his son, he said the young Tiger benefited from playing in front of big home-and-away crowds, so he only had to adjust to the way the match was being played.

"It's just the intensity," Rance Sr said. "You lock the crowd out of your hearing and focus on the game. I got lost in my first grand final and I live to regret that.

"I was the youngest player on the ground.

"I said to him yesterday that I was young, but he's 23. Listening to the way he talks, he knows what presses his buttons having played 80-odd games and been through the tough times.

"He's pretty switched on to what makes him tick and not get overawed."

The Rance family moved to Melbourne when Alex was drafted, and although he avoids giving his son advice on how to play, Rance loves having his father there.

"He's always a good sounding board. He loves his footy so much," Rance said.

Having made his debut in 2009, he cannot wait for his first final.

"It's definitely going to be the biggest crowd I've ever played in front of. It's going to be fantastic," he said.

"I definitely won't be quiet, intense and kept away. I'll be getting around the boys and making them laugh."" Richmond defender *Alex Rance *