In a special holiday season series, richmondfc.com.au is asking you to select the best players to have filled each of the traditional on-field positions for the Tigers throughout the past half-century. Our focus today turns to the rovers...
Knocked on the door at Tigerland, as a skinny 14-year-old kid back in 1961, asking for a game with the Club’s under 17s, and ended up becoming the first player in league football history to reach the 400-game milestone. An outstanding performer in five premiership sides with Richmond (1967, 1969, 1973, 1974 and 1980) – the first four as a brilliant rover and the last one as a dynamic half-forward. Electrifying pace, superb anticipation, enormous stamina, an insatiable ball-winning appetite, uncanny goal sense, great courage, plus a fierce will-to-win, combined to make him a true Tiger champion and one of the game’s all-time greats. His ultra-high level of performance over such a long career was truly remarkable. Averaged 22.7 disposals and 1.9 goals per match throughout his wonderful 403-game league career. Won the Jack Dyer Medal five times, was Richmond’s leading goalkicker in a season on three occasions, and captained the Club. Was named first rover in the Tigers’ Team of the Century, is a Richmond ‘Immortal’ and an Australian Football Hall of Fame Legend.
Recruited by Richmond from Mildura, he became one of the catalysts in the Tigers’ re-emergence as a league football force during the early 1980s, with his pace, stamina, aggression, boldness, determination, vision, evasiveness, pinpoint disposal and all-round football ‘smarts’ being stand-out attributes. When the Club’s fortunes deteriorated from 1983 onwards, he was a shining light amid the gloom. He earned a glowing reputation as a superb exponent of handball, continually providing opportunities for teammates with his quick, slick hands. An inspiring on-field leader, who set a fine example for his young, inexperienced teammates. Averaged 20.7 disposals and 1.2 goals per game throughout his 274-game league career. Was a pivotal member of Richmond’s 1980 premiership side, Club captain from 1988-1992, named as second rover (forward pocket) in the Tigers’ Team of the Century, a 20-time Victorian State representative and a triple All-Australian representative. Won the Jack Dyer Medal twice (1986, 1987) and was inducted into the Richmond Hall of Fame in 2002.
Started in the under 19s at Richmond and worked his way through the ranks, debuting with the senior side in 1988. A highly-skilled small man, who was particularly renowned for his deft use of handball, which created many opportunities for teammates. Consistently racked up big disposal numbers, predominantly by hand, although he worked hard to improve his kicking during his time with the Tigers. Averaged 23.1 disposals per match throughout his 123-game career at Tigerland. Also possessed lightning reflexes and an impressive ability to extricate himself out of the clutches of opponents. Won the Jack Dyer Medal in 1991, after finishing runner-up in the Club’s 1989 Best and Fairest award. Departed Richmond at the end of 1993 to join Brisbane.
Selected by Richmond with its first pick in the 2004 rookie draft, and subsequently promoted to the Club’s primary playing list, making his senior league debut midway through the 2005 season. Developed into one of the competition’s best young midfielders by 2007, finishing a close second in the Jack Dyer Medal that year. Continued to thrive at the game’s highest level, showcasing his contested ball-winning ability, hard running and polished disposal, until an ankle injury brought a premature end to his 2009 season. Over the next few years, he suffered a spate of severe injuries that sidelined him for long periods of time. In between, however, he still managed to play some good football for the Richmond side – such was his exemplary level of professionalism, tenacity and courage. Averaged 20.3 disposals per match throughout his 154-game career with the Tigers.
Richmond’s first pick (No. 2 overall) in the 2007 National Draft made his senior league debut in Round 8 of the 2008 season against Geelong at the MCG, scored a goal with his kick, and has gone on to establish himself as a premier midfielder of the competition. Was recently retrospectively awarded the 2012 Brownlow Medal Brownlow, after finishing equal runner-up at the time, is a triple Jack Dyer Medallist (2011, 2012, 2014), a winner of the prestigious AFL Coaches Association’s Player of the Year award (in 2012), and an All-Australian representative (2012). Has captained the Tigers for the past four years and continues to grow in the leadership role. Is renowned for his prolific ball-winning ability, balance, vision, skills on both sides, and creativity. Turns just 27 at the start of the 2017 season, so has plenty of top football still left in him. Averages 23.9 disposals per match throughout his 173-game league career with Richmond.