Brendon Goddard’s ability is undoubted.
Since the moment he walked through the St Kilda Football Club doors, his kicking skills were on show and his St Kilda teammates were privy to his talents with bat and a golf club in his hand.
But while some are quick to criticise the soon-to-be 300-gamer for his combative nature on the field, former captain and close friend Nick Riewoldt said Goddard’s leadership is an underrated asset.
“I admire BJ’s challenging nature and that’s not limited to the football field either,” Riewoldt told Aflplayers.com.au.
“He’s a really demanding friend — he challenges you on the way you live your life, which I think is a really rare but important quality.
“His ability to inspire his teammates to be the best they can was a strength. We really thrived on having someone like BJ as a leader at the Saints.
“He knows exactly what he stands for and doesn’t shy away from who he is. I think anyone who’s played football with him has been a better player because of that and his friends are better people as well.”
It didn’t take long for Goddard and Riewoldt to become close.
Not long after being taken by the Saints with the first pick in the 2002 draft, Goddard formed a close bond with an already established young star in Riewoldt.
The pair would play a vital role in a St Kilda era that would come as close as possible to winning a premiership without receiving the silverware.
During this time, Goddard had become one of the best handful of players in the game before deciding his future would be at another club.
Despite the strains it could have had on their relationship, Riewoldt believes Goddard’s decision was never an issue with any of the playing group.
“Our friendship transcends footy, so whatever he thought is best for him is what he should be doing,” Riewoldt added.
“His situation obviously changed in recent years with a change of clubs. During that 2012 season, he was really honest with me throughout the whole process.
“We were actually in Mexico two weeks before I was due to get married when BJ told us all that he was moving to Essendon. He was tossing up whether to make the trip over or not because a lot of the St Kilda boys were going to be there.
“Fortunately, he came along and after about five minutes of explaining his reasons, we accepted his decision. Of course I wanted him to stay but I didn’t harbour any ill will against him.”
Riewoldt lauded his good mate for the way he’s handled his first four years at the Bombers given the unforeseen circumstance in which he entered.
Goddard almost became a spokesperson for the playing group during that time but he still managed to find a good balance between footy and life.
“Off the field, he’s a really well balanced person. BJ has great morals, he’s a fun guy and a really good friend, husband, dad and family person,” Riewoldt said.
“It’s also no secret he loves his golf and he’s pretty unreal out on the course. For a period of time there, we would joke that he was a part-time footballer and a full-time golfer because he’s absolutely obsessed with it. I’m sure there’s stuff he knows about the sport that even pros aren’t aware of.
“I think his golfing has decreased a little since starting a family but I don’t know how he gets away with it — luckily his wife Rosie is tolerable person.”
Although he was a highly-touted junior with an abundance of talent, Riewoldt said Goddard earnt every one of his 299 AFL games through hard work and dedication and is delighted to see him reach such a significant milestone.
“It was on him to become a great player the moment he came to the club. He’s taken control of his career in every way, so it doesn’t surprise me how well he’s played for so long, because I’ve seen the way he goes about his preparation both professional and personal life — it’s elite.
“I’m rapt and, as a mate, so proud that BJ has made it to such a remarkable milestone. To him, it’ll be another game but his family and friends will celebrate his efforts and enjoy the experience. I’m sure it’ll be something he reflects on at the end of the year or once his career has finished up.”