Richmond’s mosquito fleet may have stolen the limelight but Jack Riewoldt deserves credit for helping to lift the Tigers into the AFL grand final.
That’s the assessment of Tigers great Matthew Richardson, who will present the premiership cup to skipper Trent Cotchin should Richmond defeat Adelaide at the MCG on Saturday.
The bold decision to play Riewoldt for much of the year as a lone tall target in an unusually small forward line has paid off handsomely, with the Tigers reaching the grand final for the first time in 35 years.
It has also forced the club’s eight-time leading goal kicker to add new strings to his bow.
The dual Coleman Medallist has focused heavily on providing opportunities for eye-catching small forwards Daniel Rioli, Dan Butler and Jason Castagna, who have largely flourished despite their inexperience.
Richardson, who booted 800 goals during a glittering career at Punt Road, said his key-forward successor had carried a heavy load for the Tigers.
“Jack’s been amazing this year,” Richardson said on Tuesday.
“He’s played a role where he’s had to be the sole tall forward and it’s taken a lot of energy, I’d say, with the contests that he has to get to and bring (the ball) to ground.
“He’s had a really good year, he’s kicked 50 goals again. You talk about his team-play – he’s been outstanding this year.
“Some of the goals he creates with his little tap-ons and just his footy smarts – he’s a really smart footballer, Jack, and he’s played a really big role in that forward line.”
Riewoldt was kept quiet during the Tigers’ huge preliminary final win over Greater Western Sydney, finishing with eight disposals, two marks and a goal.
But the 28-year-old was happy to take a back-seat so long as his side came away with the win.
“My role is completely different to what it has been in the past,” Riewoldt said.
“Although I probably didn’t have the kicks, marks and handballs, I like to think that I led from the front.
“I just tried to keep those younger guys in the game and provide them with (opportunities for) their strengths, which is getting the ball to ground.”