Dion Prestia now must surely be recognised as one of the AFL competition’s top five midfielders following another superb showing for Richmond, in last Thursday night’s 15-point victory over Carlton.
Within the four walls at Tigerland, Prestia is extremely highly rated, but many outside the Club have been slow to acknowledge his midfield excellence.
That may be because he has suffered a fair few injuries, which have forced him to spend lengthy stints on the sidelines. Or perhaps because he’s not a noted goalkicker in the mould of a Christian Petracca, Marcus Bontempelli or Dustin Martin.
Prestia, however, is an elite midfielder due to his consistent ball-winning ability, hard, two-way running, creativity by hand and foot, composure and toughness.
The triple Tiger premiership star and 2019 Jack Dyer Medallist handled the wet ball and slippery conditions with ease last Thursday night, producing a midfield master class.
He finished the match with a team-high 33 disposals, game-high and equal AFL career-high 19 contested possessions, game-high and career-high 13 clearances, game-high and equal career-high six centre clearances, three inside-50s, six score involvements and 423 metres gained.
This season, Prestia is averaging 25.7 disposals, 11.1 contested possessions, 5.7 clearances, 4.1 inside-50s, 2.9 tackles, 6.2 score involvements, 2.9 intercepts and 381.4 metres gained per game.
In a post-match interview with Channel Seven, Prestia outlined how he goes about his midfield business . . .
“I probably look at my strength, as I can play inside, but I can also get out,” he said.
“So, pretty much every single game I go into focusing on just getting out first at a stoppage.
“I feel like I can probably do that better than I guess a bit more of an inside player . . .
“If I can match up on a Paddy Cripps, who is an absolute bull inside, I feel like I can probably use my strengths getting out.
“So, I think that’s why I try to get inside as much as I can, and I can cover the ground.”
The respective coaches in the Round 14 Richmond v Carlton clash – Damien Hardwick and Michael Voss – certainly acknowledged Prestia’s outstanding performance on the night.
They rewarded him with maximum votes for the match – 10 out of 10 – in the 2022 AFL Coaches’ Association’s Champion Player of the Year Round 14 voting.
The full voting details for the Round 14 Richmond v Carlton match are:
10 – Dion Prestia (Richmond)
6 – Adam Saad (Carlton)
4 – Jayden Short (Richmond)
3 – Liam Baker (Richmond)
3 – Jack Graham (Richmond)
2 – Dylan Grimes (Richmond)
1 – Nick Vlastuin (Richmond)
1 – Sam Docherty (Carlton)