AFL captain Cotchin a Tiger until 2020

Having effectively made skipper Trent Cotchin a Tiger for life, Richmond will now turn their attention to re-signing fellow stars Dustin Martin and Alex Rance.

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Cotchin has signed a five-year contract extension, tying him to the Tigers until the end of 2020.

The 24-year-old’s previous deal ran out at the end of 2015, by which time he would have been eligible for restricted free agency.

Rance’s stocks have risen hugely on the back of his All-Australian selection and he was integral to Richmond’s nine-match winning streak to surge into the AFL finals.

Martin, 23, went through a messy contract impasse with the Tigers last year but finished third behind Cotchin and Brandon Ellis in the 2014 best and fairest count.

The current contracts of Rance and Martin both run out next year, although they are expected to follow the lead of Cotchin and extend their tenure at Richmond.

“I’m excited to continue what we’ve been doing over the last couple of years and really striving for that success,” said Cotchin, a triple club best and fairest winner.

“We’ve obviously drafted in some really exciting talent but also our guys who have been here for a few years now are really starting to show positive signs.”

Key midfielder Brett Deledio did something similar when he signed a five-year deal on the eve of the 2012 season instead of letting talks drag on.

Cotchin said he also didn’t want negotiations to be a distraction for the playing group and, after becoming a dad during the finals series, he liked the security of the long-term arrangement.

“I would hope that my commitment does help to encourage some of our younger players who are coming out of contract but the reality is that they need to be comfortable in their own shoes,” he said.

“I would hope that we’re creating an environment where everyone’s happy and feel that they’re getting the best out of themselves.

“If we’re doing that then they have no reason to be looking elsewhere.”

Cotchin has played 131 games in seven seasons and has polled at least 15 Brownlow Medal votes in each of the past four years.

He replaced Chris Newman as Richmond captain two years ago.