Young players making their way in the AFL are often labelled mature for their ability to handle the rigours of life in the big time.
At Adelaide, however, there’s a young man doing things off the field that belies his tender age.
Riley Knight is just 20. He made his debut in the days after the death of his first AFL coach, Phil Walsh, in tragic circumstances.
“It was a very proud moment to be able to play in such a special game for the club,” Knight told aflplayers.com.au.
“After the heartache and sadness that we experienced during the week, it was definitely a memorable game to play in and one that I won’t forget.
“Like every first game, there was a lot of excitement and enjoyment and I loved being out there.”
He kicked two goals and had 13 disposals in what was a blur of an evening against West Coast.
Thank you for your contribution to our club and the game itself, although short, was very powerful. You will be missed dearly. R.I.P Walshy
— riley.knight (@RileytKnight) July 3, 2015
On Saturday night, in just his 10th AFL game, he will play his first final for the Crows when they tackle the Bulldogs.
How he handles the hustle and bustle of finals footy is an unknown. But when you sit with Knight and hear him speak, you get the impression the bright lights of the MCG won’t overawe him.
As well as developing his craft as a hard-working forward who can spend time in the midfield, Knight is busy studying commerce at Adelaide University.
He is also involved with the South Australian Metropolitan Fire Service’s Road Awareness Program. He pushes a message he wants more young people to listen to.
“It’s there to educate kids about the dangers on the road and preventing the death toll of young kids aged 18-21,” Knight explained.
“I go and talk to Year 11 students at schools about my personal experience and the loss of one of my mates (in a road accident).
“Hopefully I can educate them and make them think about their decisions and actions on the road to prevent them from losing someone like I did.”