It says a lot about a professional athlete who can consistently face any adversity, gather their thoughts, develop a plan and hit the ground running, time and time again.
GWS Giants forward Jake Riccardi’s AFL career so far is a testament to exactly that, having had to make his way back into the Giants best 22 eight times across his 26-game career.
Although such a stat does not paint a picture of desired consistency for Riccardi, his will to work and dominate the VFL this year point towards an undeniable young talent wanting nothing more than to create a legacy for himself at the highest level.
Riccardi most definitely has the knack for performing under pressure in personally defining moments, which is likely a product of his prolonged yet rewarding road to the league, starting at a young age at a hub for raw talent.
His football roots stem from none other than the St. Bernard’s footy factory in Essendon. Like many others before him who hail from the ‘Snake Pit’, Riccardi appreciates and is forever thankful for this community shaping the person and player he is today.
“The school and the club itself are just infested with people who love sport and footy in particular. Without even knowing, footy is so constant and a part of your life.
“Being around someone like Lachlan Sholl on a daily basis – seeing the way he goes about working tirelessly on his individual craft most definitely motivated me to get the most out myself in any situation.”
When called upon to bring more to his game and subsequently run out with the VFL squad, the goal-kicking forward knows how to deliver in style and has been nothing short of admirable, despite finding the process consistently challenging.
“The first week back after being dropped is always hard, you have to accept the news and sometimes play a day later. I just try to play as naturally as I can and not let expectations of the performance get the better of me,” Riccardi continued.
“However, I am actually very proud of myself when returning to VFL, doing the very best I can for the Giants in any side – nothing in my preparation differs.”
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The number 26 has had some unforgettable performances in the VFL this year, doing what Jake Riccardi does best – crash packs, take marks and kick goals. The most impressive being Round 6 against the Northern Bullants where he piled on 9 goals.
More recently in Round 16, Williamstown defenders struggled to minimise Riccardi’s prowess, kicking a handy three goals and pulling in 10 marks at Downer Oval.
“No matter the team or the opposition, I am always managing my distance from the ball, flying for marks and all the other little things on top like my kicking and intent at the contest come from putting in the work at training.”
McVeigh on point
All eyes on the Giants remain focused on the departure of Leon Cameron, but more importantly the current man in charge in Mark McVeigh. Riccardi credits his new coach largely for his rebound performances in 2022.
“He is just very honest, easy to talk to and an all-round good bloke. There isn’t a guy on the roster that doesn’t value his opinion.
“When I have been dropped, he makes it very clear what he wants from me which is to compete, compete, compete.
“When you know a coach has belief in your ability through the tone in his voice, it adds that five per cent to your game which can be the difference between playing AFL or not.”
Riccardi is looking to solidify his position in the Giants best 22 for the remainder of the season and beyond, as a staple big aiding the likes of Toby Greene and nonetheless the scoreboard off his own boot.
The up and comer’s pride for his ability to rebound with form in the VFL will never fade, yet for his sake hopes it becomes a thing of the past on the road to a desired and memorable AFL career.
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