By Beth Newman
At 24, Michael Richardson is one of the elder figures in the Sandgate Hawks side, and the defender plays a major role both on and off the field.
As the side’s fitness guru, Richardson played a key role in the team’s pre-season program, a position that probably makes him both the club’s most revered and resented member, but it’s a job he loves.
“I really enjoy teaching the younger guys and with taking the fitness stuff, I’m in charge of a lot of the running work,” he said.
“I think guys have a bit of respect for me, otherwise I’ll push them pretty hard.”
Richardson, also a member of the Hawks leadership group, was a pivotal player for the Hawks last year in the backline, playing every game.
The defender said the Hawks’ confidence had grown after they surprised many with their performances in 2013.
“Last year, we had a lot of new young faces come in…and we wanted to redefine where we were as a club and as a playing group,” he said.
“I think we’ve done that over last year and building into this year so that way, we’re more ready to attack.”
“After last year, we realised our capabilities a bit more, so we’ll take some confidence in to this year.”
On a personal note, Richardson is looking forward to the return of representative footy, with the QAFL team facing off against the VAFA in June.
“When I was younger, I always remember seeing the names and stuff like that,” he said.
“I didn’t have too bad a year last year, so that’s probably one of my personal goals (to be picked).”
With a few new faces, and the likely addition of NEAFL players most weeks, Richardson said the competition for spots had raised intensity at training, through summer.
“You see the intensity lifts up a bit , especially now we’re coming in towards games and we’ve had a few of the Aspley guys train and that, they realise we’ve got to step it up,” he said.
“We’ve got a good junior club so last year the 18s won and we had a lot of 18s play a lot of senior football so it’s good to have a lot of the young guys pushing up as well.
“That just makes guys realise that they’ve got to perform.”
That intensity in training should only help further the Hawks’ reputation as a relentless side, Richardson said.
“We thrive on the hard work and not letting teams go,” he said.
“We always want teams to know that they’re going to have to run hard for four quarters because we’re not going to stop chasing, tackling and putting on that pressure.”