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Saturday, April 17, 2021

Giants’ Riccardi named round 14 AFL Rising Star

GWS Giants forward Jake Riccardi has been rewarded for his stellar performance against the Fremantle Dockers with the round 14 NAB AFL Rising Star nomination.

Riccardi kicked four goals in just his second appearance to help the Giants secure a much-needed 38-point victory over the Dockers at Optus Stadium.

To go along with his four goals, Riccardi recorded 12 possessions and took nine marks, including a game-high five marks inside 50.

Riccardi was unlucky not to pick up a Rising Star nomination the week before in his debut match against the West Coast Eagles where he recorded 16 disposals, 10 marks and booted two goals.

He is the second Giant to be nominated for the Rising Star award after Tom Green picked up a nomination in round 4 against the Collingwood Magpies.

The Giants copped plenty of criticism for the forward set-up after their dismal 41-point loss to the Swans in round 12, so coach Leon Cameron decided to give the youngster a chance.

Riccardi has taken his opportunity with both hands and has provided a consistent target for the Giants inside 50, something they were severely lacking before his arrival.

The 20-year-old Riccardi was overlooked for two drafts before the Giants selected him at pick 51 in the 2019 AFL draft after an impressive season for Werribee in the VFL where he booted 38 goals to claim the Fothergill-Round-Mitchell Medal awarded to the most promising young talent in the VFL.

Riccardi has earned plenty of praise during his first two games, with Brisbane Lions champion forward Jonathan Brown comparing him to some legends of the game already.

“How did he slip through the draft?” a perplexed Jonathan Brown asked on Fox Footy.

“We’ve got so many recruiters around the country and this bloke looks like Wayne Carey in his second game. Or Matthew Pavlich or Nick Riewoldt – roll them all together.

“He’s been outstanding. He’s kicked plenty of goals, but it’s the way he does it. He moves beautifully, he’s taken the marks … it’s just great to see.

“I can’t think of a key forward who’s been able to burst onto the scene like this earlier in his career over the last few years.”

There is still a long way for Riccardi to go before he can be truly compared to those greats of the game, but for now, it’s a joy to watch a young forward playing so well.

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