Young rebounding defender Jason Castagna made significant progress during his first season with Richmond in 2015.
Castagna, picked up by the Tigers at pick 29 overall in the AFL’s rookie draft late last year, was so impressive with his run and carry off the half-back line that he earned a promotion to the Club’s primary playing list in August.
Although Castagna didn’t manage to break through for his senior league debut before season’s end, he certainly showed enough to suggest that he’s a young player with plenty of upside.
The 19-year-old spoke candidly with ‘Roar Vision’ about his development at Tigerland throughout 2015.
“My first year here, I just tried to learn as much as I could and enjoy myself through the VFL. And, I reckon I did that . . . I had great fun,” Castagna said.
“It’s a massive transition from TAC Cup to VFL . . . I was coming up against a lot bigger bodies than I would have been last year.
“And, probably a really big difference from TAC (Cup ) to this year, is how much your structures come into it. In TAC, you kind of just go out there and play . . . Structures really come into it in this, and I think it’s really good, and better for the team, obviously.
“The environment here is really good, I reckon, just being around the boys so much more. Obviously, you’re here every day and it’s just a lot more fun and the environment’s a really enjoyable one . . .
“Coming in from the start, there’s a lot going on. It’s hard to take in. But as you go through the year, and play with a lot of the boys, it gets drummed into you.
“It took me a while to fully understand most of the stuff. But ‘Truck’ (Ben Rutten) and Ryan Ferguson, the backline coaches, were pretty good for me . . . really drummed it in and kept reinforcing it, which was helpful.”
Castagna, understandably, was thrilled to win a promotion to Richmond’s senior list, and he used it as added incentive to make additional advancements in his game.
“Getting the elevation towards the end of the season gave me a lot of confidence and made me want to push harder, I guess, to try and get senior selection,” he said.
He has drawn on the experience and expertise of fellow Tiger rebounding defender Bachar Houli in his quest for further football improvement.
“Bachar’s my mentor, so I speak with him a bit about footy. And I go through his game with him, watch his vision, and I pick up a lot from him,” Castagna said.
“From ‘Bach’ especially, but all the defenders, I’ve learnt a lot more about actually defending this year.
“I think last year in the TAC, you kind of just want to get the ball and just run with it. But the defensive part is crucial, and I’ve learned a heap from those guys.
“Probably the key thing I’ve learnt off them, is how big communication is. When you’re out there with them, just at training, you realise how helpful it is when they’re talking so much.”
Castagna has a clear view on what he wants to do in preparation for season 2016 . . .
“Over this break I want to stay fit and, while doing that work on my skills and hone in on that part of my game,” he said.
“Put my best foot forward in pre-season and try and do well in pre-season games, and then see where that takes me.”