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Richmond Recruiting Rewind: Jumping Jack’s flash

Recruitment Zone: Riewoldt Bingle presents: as part of the Richmond Recruitment Rewind a look at Richmond's No.13 2006 National Draft Pick, Jack Riewoldt.
Jack Riewoldt of Richmond and Mal Michael of Essendon in action during the Round 9 AFL match between the Richmond Tigers and Essendon Bombers at the MCG.
Jack Riewoldt of Richmond and Mal Michael of Essendon in action during the Round 9 AFL match between the Richmond Tigers and Essendon Bombers at the MCG.

In the 16th of a Bingle Recruitment Rewind special series, focusing on 20 highlights from Richmond’s trade/draft history during the off-season, we take a look at the Tigers’ latest Tasmanian key-forward success story, Jack Riewoldt.

Richmond’s Recruiting Manager Francis Jackson was a nervous man in the days leading up to the 2006 AFL National Draft . . .

Jackson knew exactly who he wanted to take with the Club’s first selection in that draft – a Tasmanian teenage star forward by the name of Jack Riewoldt.

The problem for Jackson was that the Tigers had exchanged their original first round draft pick in a deal for Fremantle’s versatile big man Graham Polak.

They had parted with pick 8 and, in return, received Polak and the Dockers’ first-round selection, which was pick 13.

Richmond remained confident Riewoldt would still be available, when the time came to make its first choice at the ’06 draft table.  It was, however, an anxious wait for Jackson.

He had been closely monitoring the progress of the younger cousin of St Kilda champion Nick Riewoldt for quite some time, and knew he was something special.

 Tasmania had long been a breeding ground for star Richmond key forwards . . . first there was Royce Hart, then Michael Roach, followed by Matthew Richardson.

It was Francis Jackson’s first opinion that Jack Riewoldt possessed the potential to follow in their famous footsteps at Tigerland.

After missing the first couple of months of the 2006 season, due to a broken collarbone, Riewoldt took a huge step in his football career, answering every challenge that confronted him . . .

He played eight games at VFL level with the then Tasmanian Devils team, represented Tasmania in the under-18 national championships, and established himself as a senior regular at Clarence, which was the same Tassie club Richmond recruited the great Royce Hart from.

Riewoldt starred for Clarence in its upset victory over Glenorchy in the 2006 grand final, kicking a game-high four goals.

On AFL National Draft night 2006, Francis Jackson had his fingers crossed, as the names started to be called out . . . Bryce Gibbs (No. 1 to Carlton), Scott Gumbleton (No. 2 to Essendon), Lachlan Hansen (No. 3 to North Melbourne), Matthew Leuenberger (No. 5 to Brisbane), Travis Boak (No. 6 to Port Adelaide) . . . So far, so good.

When Melbourne announced James Frawley as its selection, at pick 12, Jackson was both elated and relieved . . . he’d got his man.

 He then, with no hesitation, loudly and clearly, read out Jack Riewoldt’s name at pick 13.

Jackson was extremely confident in Riewoldt’s ability to eventually impact the game at the highest level.

Leading Tasmanian football writer, James Bresnehan, also was convinced the talented teenage forward had the necessary ‘weapons’ in his football armory to mix it with the best in the business.

“Jack’s strongest asset is his marking on the lead. He leads strongly and has really sure hands,” Bresnehan said.

“For a tall player, he’s also very good at ground level. He easily scoops the ball off the turf, runs and carries it, and is a particularly reliable running shot at goal.

“Another stand-out facet of his game is his ability to run to the forward 50-metre line, mark on the lead, turn, steady, and pass to another forward inside the 50. This was something he was quite effective at in the VFL during last season.

“Of course, like most newcomers to AFL football, Jack needs to increase his body strength for one-on-one contests. Overall, however, I feel he has what it takes to become a very valuable player at Tigerland.”

Riewoldt debuted for Richmond in the Round 9, 2007 Dreamtime clash with Essendon, but it wasn’t until the following season that he established himself as a regular senior member.

A solid return of 18 goals in 18 games during the ’08 season was followed by further steady progress in 2009, with 32 goals in 20 appearances.

Then, in Damien Hardwick’s first year as coach, in 2010, Riewoldt produced a stunning breakout season at full-forward for the Tigers.

He kicked 78 goals to become the first Richmond player since Michael Roach to win the Coleman Medal, as the competition’s leading goalkicker for the home-and-away season.  

Such was Riewoldt’s influence that year, he also took out the Jack Dyer Medal, as the Tigers’ Best and Fairest winner, and gained selection in the All-Australian side.

At one stage during that season, Riewoldt booted 43 goals in a stunning eight-game burst, including a magnificent, career-high 10-goal blitz against the West Coast Eagles at the MCG. 

With his spectacular high marking, clever ground-level work, and accurate kicking, Riewoldt was an unstoppable force.

Since then, Riewoldt has developed into one of the premier key forwards of the AFL competition.

He added a second Coleman Medal to his growing list of achievements in 2012 (with 65 goals), becoming just the second Richmond player ever (alongside Michael Roach) to win the competition’s leading goalkicker award in a season twice.

In 2014, Riewoldt reached the 50-goal milestone for the fifth season in-a-row, which is a feat only one other player in Tigerland history has achieved – the legendary Jack Titus.

Riewoldt, who finished with 61 goals in season 2014, has leapt into seventh place on the Tigers’ all-time goalkicking list (381 goals from 157 games).

Given Riewoldt’s only just entering his prime as a league player (he turns 26 on Friday, October 31), it’s fair to assume he will add considerably to that goal tally before he hangs up the boots.