Are some recruiters regretting their decision not to select Werribee youngster Jake Riccardi at the AFL’s mid-season draft?
Riccardi was one of the highly rated players ahead of the draft, but teams generally sought an instant hit with mature-aged recruits over youngsters with room to develop.
The 19-year-old undoubtedly fits in the latter category, but with such a great upside, it might have been wise for an AFL club to lock him away early without potentially paying a premium later in the year.
It seems like the non-selection was no skin off the nose of Riccardi, who is having an even greater impact for Werribee since the draft took place.
Riccardi was a dominant force in Werribee’s 86-point win over Coburg Lions in the Victorian Football League at Piranha Park on Sunday.
The key forward kicked six goals to go with 14 disposals and eight marks.
It came a week after his four-goal performance in the win over Frankston.
It was the 10th time in 16 games that Riccardi has kicked multiple goals this season.
Only once has he been kept goalless in a game all year.
Riccardi has kicked 34.23 for the season – second only to experienced Port Melbourne forward Jordan Lisle, who has 38.
In recent weeks, Riccardi’s teammates have spoken glowingly about his impact on Werribee’s forward line and potential he has to make it at the next level.
Experienced small forward Matt Munro has a front row seat to the Riccardi show and can see the continual improvement of him and the other young forwards.
“Jake Riccardi has been having massive performances each week,” Munro said.
“Each week we’re gelling together a little bit better [as a forward group], so it’s exciting to see where things are going to go.”
When midfielder Dom Brew looks up and delivers into the forward line, he is pleased when he sees Riccardi on the lead.
He compares Riccardi to a young Nick Larkey, who played at Werribee as part of the North Melbourne alignment.
“I rate him pretty highly,” Brew said.
“He’s our main option up front.
“He’s quite agile for a big fella, so it’s good having him around the ground.
“He’s going to be a real powerhouse.”
Aside from his forward dominance this season, Riccardi, a former Calder Cannons and St Bernard’s player, has been a popular member of the playing group.
“He works really hard and he’s an awesome fella,” Werribee teammate Tom Boyd said.
Werribee is up to fifth on the ladder after the trouncing of Coburg.
The boys in black and gold have strung three wins together to move six points clear in the top eight. Two other young forwards, Bior Malual, with four goals, and Jack Henderson, with three, joined in the rout.
Ryan Henron, Michael Barlow and Nick Coughlan were also among the better players for Werribee.
After completing a hat-trick of wins over stand-alone sides, Werribee turns its attention to the Box Hill Hawks at Avalon Airport Oval at 2pm on Saturday, where they will be looking to end a three-game losing streak against AFL-aligned sides.