When I’m around ‘Stacky,’ I do like to think I look out for him as much as I would do with anyone.
The week he came into the senior side (round three) was my first week when I went into the backline. I’ve been learning that defensive role on the fly, so I’m trying to make sure I’m really approachable and be a mentor for him, but at the same time I’m actually learning a lot from what he does on the field. He does a lot of things that I can’t do and need to learn how to do which is funny because he’s 18 and I’m 30.
I’ve been doing a bit of recruiting with Richmond the last few years so I knew a little bit about Stacky before he ended up on our list via the supplemental selection period (SSP).
During the pre-season we did a match simulation drill which was pretty much ’16 v 16′ and I remember saying to one of our assistant coaches: ‘I think he’s a gun’. It was like with a question mark added to the end of the sentence because I wasn’t sure if he was really good or I was just seeing things. This was a guy that didn’t get drafted, who was training with us and who kept throwing up after every running drill. He just dominated and it got me excited about what’s to come.
Stacky is a really loud kid and you don’t see that very often from a young player. We were all kind of nervous waiting for him to show his flaws and fall over, but he just never did.
I drive him around and drop him home a bit so when we’re in the car together, I obviously just hand him the AUX cord because he’s going to look for it anyway.
In amongst the songs, he’s really good to talk to. He talks about life, his family, where he’s from and, as a student of the game, he loves to chat about footy as well.
When he was dancing to Old Town Road, that video just sums him up. That’s what he’s like all day. He’s just got endless amounts of energy. He really thrives in a large group. Growing up he would have been a real alpha, he’s a leader and he’s just so confident.
Stacky has that natural learning instinct and I reckon that’s helped fast track his footy. He kind of takes you by surprise with how much he notices around the club.
He has this fun side where he’s living in the moment, being himself with no inhibitions. And he knows that he’s got that side of him where he switches gears and knows that he needs to be all over something in a meeting.
He brings a lot of spark to almost everything he does. He’s been an enormous boost for us off field and he’s probably added just as much there as what he has on field.
If you ask him a question, he’ll give you 200 per cent honesty. He won’t hold anything back, he’ll just tell it how it is and that’s one of the reasons why we absolutely love him.
He wants to share his story. He’s really proud of where he’s come from and I think a lot of people will get to know him a lot more over his football journey.
At the club, we have development meetings where the first-to-third year players go in for half-an-hour and talk about their careers and what they want to achieve.
A lot of them (players’ goals) were really modest and level-headed – I want to get the best out of my ability and I want to make people proud, things like that.
But Stacky’s was, ‘I want to be the greatest’. He puts no ceiling on what he can do. He said he wants to be the greatest that’s ever played and he wants to be an actor as well.
Stacky’s dreams are in the stars and he has the confidence to actually have a shot at achieving something like that. His whole persona is ‘Why can’t I do it?’
When I heard that, I said to myself, ‘Did he just say that?’ But, when you think about it, why can’t he say that? It’s just that no-one does.
AFL RISING STAR NOMINEES IN 2019
Round 11 – Sydney Stack (Richmond)