A 23-year-old teacher from Wangaratta is the shock selection in the AFL draft, five years after not a single club showed any interest in him.
Impressive form in the Victorian country Murray and Ovens League has earned midfielder Joe Richards a berth at Collingwood.
The Wangaratta Rovers star was the bolter of the draft, as father-son twins Alwyn Jnr and Jayden Davey found their way to Essendon as bargain picks.
Likewise, North Melbourne recruited father-son prospect Cooper Harvey with the fourth-last pick of the draft, which featured 59 selections.
Sydney were the movers and shakers again during Tuesday night’s second and third rounds, the night after they frustrated cross-town rivals GWS with their bid on Harry Rowston.
They recruited Hawthorn academy prospect Cooper Vickery at pick 27 – a selection they had gained on Monday night in a trade with the Hawks.
But the top story of Tuesday night’s second and third rounds was Richards, who did not speak to any clubs when he reached draft age at 18, five years ago.
Port Adelaide and Geelong were also interested in him after his impressive form for Rovers, who won this year’s premiership.
Veteran Collingwood recruiter Derek Hine said they see him playing off half-back, which would let young gun Nick Daicos go into the midfield.
“He’s a mature-age player, he plays the way that we play … he really deserves an opportunity,” Hine said.
Former Collingwood player Ben Reid coached Richards at Rovers this season and lobbied Hine regularly.
“He’s probably on the phone now. He was driving me mad,” Hine said.
Reid texted Hine after Richards starred in their grand final win – and again a couple of hours later in the evening as the Rovers celebrated their flag.
“It was something like Chinese, seriously – clearly, he had had a big night,” Hine remembered with a chuckle.
“I said ‘are you trying to help Joey, or not?'”
Bombers recuiting boss Adrian Dodoro was also delighted after they recruited Alwyn Davey Jnr at pick 45 and then Jayden at 54.
Given their obvious talent, the sons of Bombers speedster Alwyn Snr came to them cheaply.
Davey played 100 games for Essendon between 2007-13, with Essendon deliberately giving him his last match so his two sons would potentially be eligible for father-son status in the draft.
Even back then, Dodoro said the twins clearly had talent.
“It’s fantastic … it’s huge for our football club. They’re bona fide talent,” he said.
“They’re very, very exciting players.”
Alwyn is on track to make his AFL debut next season, but Jayden is recovering from a knee injury and will be given plenty of time.
“Many people had him (Alwyn Jnr) in the first round … we’re pretty lucky, we’ve got a bit of a steal,” Dodoro said.
Also on Tuesday night, former Melbourne and North Melbourne player Corey Wagner was the only pick with previous AFL experience.
Fremantle recruited him with the No.57 selection after he played 19 senior games between 2016-19.
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