From whipping boy to AFL premiers’ star

Richmond’s much-maligned forward Jack Riewoldt has enjoyed the last laugh.


Riewoldt, a whipping boy for frustrated fans and opinionated pundits throughout his 225-game AFL career, was overcome with emotion on Saturday after the Tigers’ grand-final win.

“Who would have thought we finished 13th last year, beaten by (113) points in the last round and now we’re f***ing premiers,” Riewoldt said in his on-field interview.

Riewoldt proceeded to rock out with The Killers, gatecrashing the US band’s post-match gig in the middle of the MCG.

The 28-year-old took to the stage, was handed a microphone then belted out Mr Brightside. All to the delight of delirious fans.

Riewoldt was the subject of trade gossip last year, while even this September, he had his fair share of critics after Richmond’s final wins over Geelong and Greater Western Sydney.

The 28-year-old delivered on football’s grandest stage in style.

He booted two goals, clutched a game-high three contested marks but even more impressive was a team-high seven tackles.

There was an early screamer and serious nerves, with Riewoldt missing the Tigers’ opening three chances to kick a goal.

But he continued to apply serious pressure, with the highlight being a pair of run-down tackles in the opening half.

“I was about to swap him and Rancey (key defender Alex Rance) at one stage,” coach Damien Hardwick joked.

“Jack was great today.”

If asked whether Richmond were grand-final material at this point last year, Riewoldt would have given you an honest answer.

“Probably no,” Riewoldt said during Friday’s parade.

Riewoldt has been at the fore of an incredible turnaround.

They key forward played a far more selfless role in 2017 but finished the season with 54 goals.

Legendary coach Paul Roos suggested the Tasmanian was unlucky to miss out on All-Australian selection.

“He has really owned that forward line group – it has been special to see,” captain Trent Cotchin said.