PAUL ROOS – HERALD SUN COLUMN

Tonight Teddy Richards plays his 200th game in the match of the round against Collingwood.  Ted’s journey at Sydney began at a simple recruiting meeting towards the end of the 2005 season.

On projecting forward to where the Swans were heading it was suggested to break up the list into inside mid’s, outside mid’s, small forwards and backs and key position players.  Once the discussion about where each player would fit was finalized and the magnets properly adjusted almost to a man we agreed there was a glaring whole in our depth in the key defensive posts.

The next stage was to see who may be available and our attention quickly turned to an Essendon player who was constantly in and out of a Essendon Bomber line-up.

He appeared to be quite athletic and had shown glimpses of being able to hold down a key position at AFL level.  As we look back at it now, it was one of the best moves that the Club and Ted made as we swapped pick 19 for the inconsistent Bomber defender.

However early days it was evident that Teddy lacked confidence.  Even when I initially told him that he was in our best 22 and the spot was his to lose I could tell he didn’t really believe me.

By his own admission in the papers this week, he always felt he was a game or two away of being dropped at the Swans.  This was certainly not unusual for the players that the Swans recruited from other clubs.  Many had spent time in the seconds and were down on confidence when they arrived.

Coaches had countless discussions with Ted about believing in himself as the coaches certainly had that belief in him.

Even when he started to become a good player throughout his early time at Sydney this didn’t lead to a confidence that he had become a regular AFL player.

2010 seemed to be the turning point after getting dropped during the season, he came back and played well towards the end of the year and earned a new contract with the Swans.

There is no doubt that the 2012 Grand Final showed the player that Ted has become.  After a very tough battle with Buddy in the first 3 quarters, he could have easily dropped his bundle and in fact this would more likely have happened in the early part of his career with the Swans.  But the now confident Richards went on to be one of the Swans most important players in the last quarter, constantly reading the ball and winning critical contests.

As Ted runs out tonight he has established himself as one of the most popular members of the team.  His teammates, coach and everyone at the Swans would be so pleased and proud of him that he has become the player that we all thought he would be.

The Magpies have come off their best win of the season and would have put the fear in the top four teams.  After an outstanding four quarter performance, we can now see that Collingwood’s best can win the Premiership this year.

Nathan Buckley will know that as good as last week was there is no greater challenge than playing the Swans.  As a football fan you would love to see Collingwood maintain their form of last week, this would guarantee a cracking game tonight.

Teddy Richards will be right in the mix as Ben Reid looks now to have joined Travis Cloke as a very dangerous 1 -2 punch.  The strength of the Swans two key defenders in Richards and Grundy is in their ability to help each other by zoning off their direct opponents and getting to the key tall.  This becomes so much harder with Reid now forward with Cloke.

Reid has a great ability to lead to dangerous areas and will either mark or take his opponent away from Cloke and open up a one-on-one for the big man deep in the square

This we saw constantly last week and Cloke enjoyed more one-on-one contests against the Bombers than perhaps any other game in 2013.

I’m certainly looking forward to a great game at ANZ Stadium tonight and I’m so pleased to see Teddy Richards reach the significant milestone of 200 games.

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