Shane Tuck, who passed away today, aged 38, was a warrior on the field, and one of the most likeable characters you could ever have the good fortune to meet off the field.
Tuck extracted the absolute maximum out of the football ability he possessed in a fine 173-game AFL career with Richmond from 2004-2013.
The Tiger Army loved the way ‘Tucky’ played football, as did his teammates and coaches.
He was a heart-and-soul Tiger – tough, brave, determined and totally committed to the Yellow and Black cause.
To paraphrase a line in the Club’s famous theme song, “In any weather you would see him with a grin, risking head and shin”.
That was Tucky to a tee – leaving nothing out on the field of battle, and then always with a smile on his face when you saw him around the Club.
A young Shane Tuck was keen to make a name for himself at the game’s highest level when he arrived at Hawthorn via the 2000 AFL rookie draft.
His father, Michael Tuck, had played in seven premierships with the Hawks, captained them, and earned an awesome reputation as one of their all-time greats throughout a magnificent 426-game career.
And, his uncle was a fairly handy player, too . . . Gary Ablett snr.
Tuck had shown some promising signs while playing at TAC Cup level with the Dandenong Stingrays, but Hawthorn wasn’t prepared to claim him under the AFL’s father-son rule.
The Hawks subsequently provided Tuck with an opportunity on their rookie list, but after three frustrating, injury-riddled seasons he was delisted.
Tuck then received an invitation from former Hawthorn and Adelaide ruckman, Shaun Rehn, to join him at SANFL club West Adelaide, where he had taken over as senior coach.
He took Rehn up on the offer, and proceeded to produce some top-class football with West Adelaide throughout the 2003 season.
Richmond’s recruiters had been tracking Tuck’s progress at West Adelaide, and liked what they saw.
The Tigers made their move on Tuck, taking him with their sixth selection in the 2003 AFL National Draft.
Here’s what the Club’s then Director of Football, Greg Miller, had to say, at the time, about Tuck . . .
“Shane was on the Hawthorn rookie list for three years but was plagued with injuries . . . he just struggled to get on the track and play some footy. When Shaun Rehn (former Adelaide and Hawthorn ruckman) got the coaching job at West Adelaide, he rang Shane, because he knew he was a bit of a talent. Shane played primarily in the midfield for West Adelaide. He’s a 190cm wingman, half-back/half-forward, who did some tagging roles on ‘talls’ as well with West Adelaide, and even did some of the ruckwork occasionally. He had a really good year with West Adelaide. He’s got the Tuck pedigree and, hopefully, he’s going to be one of those kids who matures late and keeps on getting better with age. Shane’s the first to admit that we’ve given him a chance to prove that he’s an AFL player. He’s got a lot of work to do, but he hasn’t been tried at the top level when he’s been fit and healthy. So, at 21 now, and with a clean bill of health, he gets a chance to prove that he can play at the level. He’s got good running ability, he’s hard at it, he’s good in one-on-one contests, and his skills are sound.”
Tuck made a slow start to his Richmond career, having to wait until Round 14 of the 2004 season for his senior league debut against Brisbane at the Gabba.
Just two more senior appearances followed that year and, at season’s end, Tuck’s name was in the Tigers’ delisting frame.
Ultimately, it came down to a choice between Tuck and fellow midfielder Tim Fleming for the one remaining spot on Richmond’s senior list.
Given the fact Tuck senior had been a late bloomer at Hawthorn, the Tigers opted to take a punt on Tuck junior, and retained his services.
It proved to be a particularly smart decision . . .
Tuck, with his prolific ball-winning ability, toughness, consistency, durability and resilience proceeded to provide the Richmond side with enormous value over the next decade through the midfield.
Admittedly, there were times throughout Tuck’s Tigerland tenure, where he fell out of favor with the Club’s coaching group.
On each occasion, however, he showed tremendous resolve to fight back and restore his reputation as a mighty midfield warrior.
When it comes to assessing the AFL career of Shane Tuck at Richmond, the numbers are certainly compelling . . . seven top-10 finishes in the Jack Dyer Medal over nine full seasons, with five of those top-five placings, and a career disposals average of 23.3 in his 173 games.
Further highlighting Tuck’s reputation as a midfield ‘beast’ is the fact he holds the record for the most contested possessions in a season by a Richmond player – 298, at an average of 13.5, in 2012.
He also holds the Club record for most contested possessions in a match – 23 – which he achieved twice, both during the 2012 season. The first occasion was in Round 12 v Greater Western Sydney at Spotless Stadium, and the second was against Carlton in Round 18 at the MCG.
And, just for good measure, ‘Tucky’ is the equal record-holder for the most tackles in a match by a Tiger – 14 v Port Adelaide at AAMI Stadium in Round 10 of the 2010 season, which was Damien Hardwick’s first win as the Club’s coach.
Shane Tuck wore the No. 21 Richmond guernsey with great pride and distinction, and he was a much-loved figure at Tigerland.
Rest in peace, Tucky.