In the lead-up to the 2014 National Draft, kicks off a special feature series, with the Club’s Recruiting Manager Francis Jackson providing a fascinating insight into the drafting of five current-day Tiger stars.  We start with the tale of the Tigers’ first pick (No. 13 overall) in the 2006 draft – key forward Jack Riewoldt.   

Draft drop dilemma
“We had pick eight, but had the opportunity of dropping down to pick 13 and also gaining Graham Polak (from Fremantle) . . .  So, we had significant discussion about whether, in fact, those five places would still enable us to pick the same player.”

Jack ahead of the pack
“I was very keen on Jack Riewoldt after watching him play . . . I thought he had a really good (under-18s) carnival.  The thing that was most impressive about him was his ability to understand footy, and his football ‘smarts’.  He actually read the ball-flight, and bounce of the ball, better than anyone else . . . I think the defining moment for me was a VFL game down in Tasmania, where he played against Essendon.  He was just a kid, but it was a great opportunity to play against men.  He dominated that day and I was very keen.” 

Pre-draft yack with Jack
“Jack was just as he is . . . he was up and about (in his pre-draft interview with Richmond), very bouncy, very vibrant.  He had a terrific personality, was confident in his own ability, and we had a long and fruitful interview.”

Scouting the scouts
“The actual final decision (to pick Riewoldt) we made after the grand final that Jack played for Clarence against Glenorchy.  I went to that grand final not really to watch Jack, but to watch who else was there, because I felt any (AFL) club that was seriously considering taking Jack with their first pick, would have been at that grand final.  So, my sole task for the day, was to identify as many people from other clubs as possible, to actually eliminate those people in that range.  At the end of the day, we felt it was a no-brainer (to drop five places in the National Draft) because Jack would still be available at pick 13.  A lot of what-ifs went into that actual decision to swap those picks with Fremantle.”

Nervous draft-day wait
“The picks in-between seem to take forever, when you have your heart set on a particular player.  At the end of the day, you just work through your list, and if one player’s gone, you just move on.  But it worked out well.”

The final word
“It took a while for Jack to settle into AFL footy, but I had no doubts that he would succeed.  He’d played well against men.  In fact, I remember in that grand final when they (Clarence) played Glenorchy, the opposition captain went straight to Jack.  He was big and strong, with ‘tatts’ all over him, and tried to whack Jack.  But Jack was way too smart for that and ended up kicking four (goals) for the day.  So, I felt he was going to adapt quite well . . . Jack’s been a fabulous player for the Club, and certainly will be for a long time to come.”

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