Richmond Pro Scout and Recruiting Officer, Will Thursfield, spoke to Richmond Media ahead of the 2021 AFL Draft.
You've been in our recruiting team for a few years now, what does the role entail?
"We've got a small but pretty tight-knit recruiting department, and I help out a little bit with Blair (Hartley) and mainly Matty Clarke in the underage and mature-age stuff. Going out on the weekends, scouring the country for players, and we operate well in here."
How did you make the transition from a former player into this recruiting role?
"I was doing some player management and represented a few Richmond players and dealt with Blair a few bit through that, and one thing fell into place and (now I'm) here and loving it."
How have you enjoyed being back at the Club in this recent period?
"We've certainly had a lot more success recently than when I was here as a player, it's a great Club to be a part of, not only football staff but it's a really good environment to come to work."
The last two years have been challenging with the football department changing a lot, what have you learned from those two years, especially going into this really important draft?
"You just have to be thorough with the right things. There's a lot of footy to digest throughout the country, and you can't be across it all, so you need to make sure you're across where you send your part-timers and what Matty and I are covering. So, it's about good coverage and being thorough with a lot of your background checks. It's not only what they do on the field, but we put a lot of time into what these guys are like off the field."
How significant is this year's draft with Richmond's five early picks (7, 15, 26, 27, 28)?
"It's a great opportunity to regenerate, while we're hoping to stay really competitive near the top of the ladder. You look through history and teams who have been able to nail those drafts and get some good young kids to develop while there are good players around them, which holds the club in good stead. Five inside-30s is really exciting and we feel like we've got some good guys identified."
Can you give us an insight into the work that has been done within the recruiting team in preparation for the draft?
"We've watched these kids from U15s and U16s, so although they haven't played a lot of footy over the last 18 months, we've got enough there and (the Victorian boys) did still play eight or nine games this year. (So we have) a pretty good handle on where they're at and combined with a lot of the background stuff that I've touched on, we feel like we're in a good spot."
What did you get out of the Victorian boys' fitness assessment at Trevor Barker Oval on the weekend, and do you feel you have enough to assess where they rank?
"We probably didn't change any thoughts, but it was really good to see them out there and interacting with one another. It was pretty important for them to get out there and enjoy themselves, they've had a tough year interrupted, so it was good to see them. They're all in pretty good shape which was good to see."
What characteristics are you looking for in your selections?
"It's a combination of things. It's their athleticism, it's their football talent, and it's also their character. You weigh up all these things and make a final decision and it might not be right, but that's the decision we'll come to. It's an exciting time of the year."