Ed Richards’ fiery red hair is normally enough to set him apart, but this year the 19-year-old also gained attention because of his football skills.
Richards, who was taken at pick 16 in the 2017 AFL National Draft, has proven to be a handy selection for the Bulldogs.
“Obviously a high draft pick, a pretty famous surname so there (was) a little bit of pressure there - he just took it in his stride,” backs coach Steven King told westernbulldogs.com.au.
“For a young player to come in for his first taste of senior footy and play as many games as he did is an unbelievable effort.”
With Collingwood greats (Ron and Lou Richards) in the family tree, Richards made his debut in round 2 and played 21 games.
“For me, the big factor for Ed is just his athleticism, particularly his aerobic ability and his speed,” said King.
“It’s going to hold him in good stead to forge a really successful career. To maintain that throughout the whole season and not really taper off too much, it shows great resilience.”
King believes Richards’ pace and adaptability will allow him to play on any line.
“I just love the way he can take the game on. A player like Ed only needs to have the ball 8 or 10 times but he’ll really carry and break lines and make the most of his possessions,” said King.
“To have that lack of fear to take the game on, I think we saw that grow and once he gets more comfortable at the level, the game will probably slow down even more for him. It’s that experience of knowing how much time and space he’s got and also lifting his eyes a bit more and looking for some more dangerous options in our front half.
“His make-up will allow him to play wing, though we’ve already seen him impact half forward as well. I think he needs to have a pretty versatile approach to pre-season and keep adding to his repertoire in all three lines because he has the ability to play all three for us and that’s going to be one of his great strengths.”