Riewoldt’s brilliant finale. By Peter Blucher.
Nick Riewoldt bid farewell to the St.Kilda captaincy in spectacular fashion on Sunday. Or did he?
As the 33-year-old champion collected a career-best 21 marks and an equal career-best nine goals against the Brisbane Lions on Sunday there was speculation of a late push to retain Riewoldt as co-captain in 2017.
This comes after St.Kilda coach Alan Richardson confirmed on 19 August that Riewoldt would stand down as skipper next year despite being just six games short of the all-time AFL captaincy record.
Said Richardson at the time: “From a leadership point of view, for our club to grow, it’s time for someone else to take that mantle and be our next captain,” he said. “And we need Rooey (Riewoldt) to support that and not only has he supported that he’s also been driving that.”
Richardson refused to identify potential replacements, but subsequent media speculation suggests Jack Steven, Jarryn Geary and fellow Queenslander David Armitage would be leading candidates.
After Riewoldt finished the 2016 season in such spectacular form there is a groundswell of support for him to share the role with his successor next year so that he can topple Stephen Kernahan’s AFL record for most games as captain.
Kernahan led Carlton 226 times. Essendon’s Dick Reynolds sits second on the list at 224 ahead of Riewoldt (220) after Riewoldt this year went past the Western Bulldogs’ Ted Whitten (212) and Brisbane’s Michael Voss (210).
But such is the high regard for Riewoldt at St.Kilda there have been fresh suggestions that he should be afforded the opportunity to write his name into the record books.
If not, then he will certainly remember fondly his 220th and last game as captain after he produced one of his very best games in the 2016 season-closer.
Reverting to his customary role in the forward line after spending much of his time this year on the wing, he turned the clock back a decade to single-handedly destroy the Lions.
He had a career-best 24 kicks to go with his career-best 21 marks and equal career-best nine goal and make it, statistically at least, one of the very best games of his 319-game career.
Remarkably, in testament to his ability to fight of the impact of time, his two other nine-goals of his career were in 2004 and 2006. His previous highest single-game marking haul of 18 was achieved three times in 2004-07-08.
Riewoldt’s outstanding effort against the Lions earned him a staggering 187 Champion Data ranking points.
It was the fifth-highest Champion Data score for the home-and-away season. Only Geelong’s Patrick Dangerfield (229), GWS’ Brisbane’s Tom Rockliff (204), Heath Shaw (203) and Hawthorn’s Josh Gibson (191) scored higher.
It surpassed the 157-point haul of St.Kilda teammate Tom Hickey in Round 1 as the highest Champion Data ranking score this season by a Queenslander.
And, it saw Riewoldt slip past Brisbane’s Dayne Zorko to finish top of the overall Champion Data ranking points for the season after Zorko, who had led throughout the season, finished the season with 108 points on Sunday.
The top 10 Queensland Champion Data points-scorers were:-
Nick Riewoldt (StK) 2221
Dayne Zorko (Bris) 2180
David Armitage (StK) 1920
Tom Hickey (StK) 1684
Zac Smith (Geel) 1627
Lee Spurr (Frem) 1624
Jarrod Harbrow (GC) 1565
Sam Gilbert (StK) 1484
Shaun Hampson (Rich) 1434
Lachie Weller (Frem) 1350
Top 10 Champion Data average points-scorers (minimum 5 games) were:-
Dayne Zorko (Bris) 109.0
Nick Riewoldt (StK) 105.8
Kurt Tippett (Syd) 88.1
David Armitage (StK) 87.3
Tom Hickey (StK) 84.2
Zac Smith (Geel) 77.5
Brendan Whitecross (Haw) 75.1
Jarrod Harbrow (GC) 74.5
Jesse White (Coll) 74.3
Lee Spurr (Frem) 73.8
Collingwood rookie Josh Smith finished 11th in each category with 1311 points at an average of 72.8.
Zorko was also pipped at the top of the 2016 Queensland possessions list despite 30 possessions against St.Kilda. He finished with 471 – seven behind St.Kilda’s David Armitage after Armitage had 30 possessions in his 150th game. Riewoldt was third at 436.
The top 10 Queensland possession-winners were:-
David Armitage (StK) 478
Dayne Zorko (Bris) 471
Nick Riewoldt (StK) 436
Lee Spurr (Frem) 398
Jarrod Harbrow (GC) 391
Josh Smith (Coll) 374
Lachie Weller (Frem) 340
Sam Gilbert (StK) 330
Alex Sexton (GC) 284
Tom Hickey (StK) 265
Zorko, who missed one game through suspension and one for personal reasons, topped the possession list on an aggregate basis from Armitage, Josh Smith and Riewoldt.
The top 10 Queensland average possession-winners (minimum 5 games) were:-
Dayne Zorko (Bris) 23.55
David Armitage (StK) 20.73
Josh Smith (Coll) 20.78
Nick Riewoldt (StK) 20.76
Jarrod Harbrow (GC) 18.62
Lee Spurr (Frem) 18.14
Josh Wagner (Melb) 17.64
Brendan Whitecross (Haw) 17.43
Adam Oxley (Coll) 16.92
Tom Bell (Bris) 16.71
Riewoldt’s nine goals saw him top the Queensland goal-kicking list for 2016 with 41.
The top 10 Queensland goal-kickers were:-
Nick Riewoldt (StK) 41
Charlie Dixon (Port) 30
Dayne Zorko (Bris) 23
Jesse White (Coll) 23
Tom Bell (Bris) 15
Kurt Tippett (Syd) 15
Alex Sexton (GC) 13
Zac Smith (Geel) 12
Lachie Weller (Frem) 12
Eric Hipwood (Bris) 11
St.Kilda’s Armitage and Sam Gilbert joined Fremantle’s Lee Spurr and Lachie Weller as the only Queenslanders to play all 22 home-and-away games.
Geelong’s Zac Smith was selected for all 22 games but was withdrawn shortly before the start of 18 due to weather conditions. He played 21 games along with Riewoldt and Gold Coast’s Jarrod Harbrow.
The top 10 Queenland games list was:
David Armitage (Stk) 22
Sam Gilbert (StK) 22
Lee Spurr (Frem) 22
Lachie Weller (22)
Jarrod Harbrow (GC) 21
Nick Riewoldt (StK) 21
Zac Smith (Geel) 21
Shaun Hampson (Rich) 20
Tom Hickey (StK) 20
Dayne Zorko (Bris) 20
In other Queensland highlights from Round 23:-
- Armitage earned 122 Champion Data points for his 30 possessions, 10 marks and eight clearances for the Saints against the Lions. It was his second game of 30+ possessions this season. Zorko had three, Josh Smith one and Brisbane’s Dayne Beams, who played only two senior games due to injury, one.
- Brendan Whitecross added another line to his outstanding comeback, warming up for the finals with 15 possessions for Hawthorn in their one-point win over Collingwood. He’s now played seven games in a row after breaking back into the senior side in Round 17.
- Collingwood’s Jesse White finished with the second-highest single season goal tally of his career when he had 11 possessions and two goals against the Hawks. His 23 goals from 16 games in 2016 is second only to his 27 goals from 18 games in 2015.
- Lachie Weller closed out a full 22-game season for Fremantle with 26 possessions in the Matthew Pavlich retirement game against Western Bulldogs. He earned 95 Champion Data points while teammate Lee Spurr collected 90 points for his 21 possessions.
- Sydney’s Aliir Aliir, who will go into the finals with the comfort of being an automatic selection, continued his astonishing rise, collecting 16 possessions and eight marks against Richmond.
- Kurt Tippett got through his second comeback game for the Swans without incident and collected nine possessions and 15 hit-outs to confirm he’ll be cherry ripe for Sydney’s hometown final against GWS on Saturday week.
- Geelong’s Zac Smith also rounded off his finals preparation with eight possessions, 22 hit-outs and a good defensive effort against Melbourne’s All-Australian ruck elect Max Gawn. Smith collected 72 Champion Data points to Gawn’s 68. Gawn averaged 118.5 throughout the year.