Nick Riewoldt

Guangzhou China November 2005;
It was our final day before departure after an amazing cultural and training experience. The players were keen to pin their ears back, enjoy a few cold Tsingtao’s and perhaps introduce themselves to the local club scene. The 3 week session was incredibly taxing so the last night social was eagerly anticipated.
“Sunshine we need to thank our hosts tomorrow for their wonderful hospitality at the training camp.
They’ve struggled for 3 weeks trying to understand English so I thought it may be a nice touch for you to do the presentation on the clubs behalf in Chinese?
It would be good for your development and show great leadership.”
“Yeah I’ll give it a crack.” says Nick.
The following day Nick delivers a (near) faultless display thanking our Chinese friends.
What we didn’t know is that Nick gave up his right to go out with his 40+ team mates and sat in his room all night researching and putting together his 60 second Chinese thank you.
That says something.
People have said that Nick Riewoldt runs his opponents into the ground – rubbish.
He has never had a preconceived idea to run an opponent off his legs. He is such a competitive, driven beast he is on a never-ending pursuit of winning the footy. I’m not even certain he could name his opponent after a game – such is his fanatical focus on winning the ball.
The fact his opponent usually drops off is simply this; after 50 or so inside 50’s Nick has probably made multiple leads on all of those. That amounts to somewhere around 150 top-end sprints of varying distances. They are not to drop his opponent off, they are to win the ball.
That says something.
Nick has three primary qualities when meshed together provide a outstanding sportsperson.
Firstly he is a sponge for knowledge, information and development – he wants to get better, he wants to be the best he can be.
Secondly he is incredibly driven – hates failure and lack of effort.
Thirdly he is the pro’s pro – the ultimate professional. Leaves nothing to chance and dedicates himself to the task (sport) and challenge.
When you have a very good learner, who is motivated to succeed and prepares themselves in an “elite” manner, you have a superstar.
That says something.
Nick came to see me at my office in 2012, somewhat down in the mouth and on the precipice of throwing in the towel.
“Thomo I’m a bit flat and wanted to have a chat about my footy. How do you think it’s going?”
“Well Rooey I have a view as usual but it doesn’t really matter what I think – what do you think?”
“I think I want to start enjoying my footy” said Nick.
In essence the grind of successive Grand Final defeats was taking its toll.
“So you want to give up, toss it in, walk away? Because as sure as hell I won’t sit here and listen to this crap from you when you still have so much to give and do” I said (with a few more statements added in).
Needless to say Nick received a little “reality” about his desire to “enjoy” his footy. Nick was left with a decision to either retire from the game there and then or dig deeper into his heart and mind for an even greater effort and commitment to his game (which I wasn’t even sure was possible to be frank).
His response on the field was dramatic. He clearly understood that football enjoyment was an outcome not an input. Nick understands the cause and effect theory very well.
You don’t have a career for 17 years without a few of these hiccups. Nick is defined by the way he handles pressure and stressful situations. He’s had his fair share. The agonising and bitter circumstances around those close Grand Finals were used as a catalyst to dig in, recalibrate, re-align and go again.
That says something.
Nick Riewoldt is an amazing athlete playing footy. He has taken more marks than any player in the history of the game, and he did it with raw courage.
Not the type of courage we all admired at the SCG against Sydney when he put himself and others in serious mortal danger. Without consideration for his own circumstances he launched himself at a football he had no right to contest. Robert Harvey kicked the ball towards Stephen Milne and Nick wasn’t that far from Harv’s when he kicked it but he put his head down and sprinted with all his muscles pumping in unison to get him to a severely dangerous contest some 40 metres away. How he didn’t hurt himself or others is still a mystery. I was only able to watch from the coach’s box with one eye closed and the other squinting in anticipation of a dreadful outcome. In a strange way it defines Nick; his grace, his courage, his athleticism, his artistry.
That says something.
You see I have heard more opinions about Nick Riewoldt than I care to remember. The mystique around him is palpable. Through every publicised event during his incredibly successful career. Today at his press conference he put it all to rest. He joined the dots for all those fans who thought they knew Nick and wanted to believe he was something else.
He is just a remarkably talented guy from terrific family network that loves his chosen sport and was prepared to do anything to extract every ounce of potential out of his body. Simple to him. Extraordinary to us.
That says something.

One thought on “Nick Riewoldt

  1. What I find interesting about that article is the ‘I want to enjoy my football’ bit.

    Firstly, I think it’s a shame you’re not coaching. It’s a bigger shame you’re not in charge of the AFL.

    I think you and Blighty have a lot in common (Apart from being part-time SKFC coaches?) He just happens to be a two-time premiership coach. But that’s life, I guess. I have no doubt you could have done the same, but life dishes out some inequalities.

    I remember how Blighty’s advice to the players in either the 97 or 98 grand final was something along the lines of ‘It’s a game of footy. Go out and enjoy it.’ It is a sporting recreation, after all, albeit the AFL have turned it into a corporate business?

    I don’t know Nick R. Or you. But I do know that mark Riewoldt took where he cartwheeled was as good as marks get. And you don’t do shit like that unless all you care about is the ball, and getting your hands on it.

    It is also my earnest desire that you don’t stop at roundabouts in Melbourne, pull out your mobile phone, and complain about the traffic.

    Signed: @Corpse_in_Pads

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