When you think of the positives to come out of the Gold Coast’s 2015 campaign, the rise of their younger players springs to mind.
While Kade Kolodjashnij, Adam Saad, Tom Lynch and Touk Miller were shining lights, Michael Rischitelli’s influence on a club in need was underrated.
The 2015 season not only resulted in Rischitelli returning to form on the field, but also shouldering a heavy workload off it as he fronted the media when cultural issues made headlines.
At times, he was the Suns’ most experienced midfielder and stand-in captain while Gary Ablett was confined to the sidelines for a large chunk of the season.
The 30-year-old relished the opportunity of a healthy body for the second consecutive year, averaging 22 disposals, 10 contested and six tackles per game in 2015 to finish fifth in the Suns’ best and fairest award.
Set to run out for his 200th game against the Bombers, Rischiltelli’s respect within the walls of Metricon Stadium couldn’t be greater, with skipper Gary Ablett saying the former Lion’s impact stretches beyond his on-field credentials.
“He’s the ultimate professional and a guy that gets the most out of his body,” Ablett told Aflplayers.com.au.
“I’ve found that he always leads by example.”
Rischitelli won Brisbane’s Merrett-Murray Medal in 2010 and has finished top 10 in the Suns’ best-and-fairest award three times.
He is also one of nine remaining Gold Coast players who featured in their inaugural team in Round 2, 2011.