Rabbitohs.com.au were lucky to run into AFL Hall of Fame inductee and former Richmond Tigers legend Matt Richardson at our Round One clash with the Wests Tigers. The retired star, who now works as an AFL commentator, shared his thoughts on Rugby League, first round jitters and sports commentary.
Having a good friend in Melbourne who supports the Rabbitohs, Richardson was eager to attend the fixture and experience a Souths home game.
While Matt finds it hard to draw parallels between the skillsets of AFL and NRL players, one thing he believes the codes have in common is the pressure players feel during a match. With 17 season experience in AFL, Richardson gave us an insight into how it feels to kick off a season in the elite sporting arena.
"The first game of the year you're always a little bit uncertain because you're not sure how the other team is going to come up from the year before," said Richardson.
"It's the same with yourself - You think you're going to go well, you've had a good pre-season and you think everything is going to go well but there's also a little bit of uncertainty in your mind and I guess the fact you haven't played for a while there's always a little bit of rust and nerves there."
Now working as a pundit for Channel Seven, Richardson is wary of criticising players too strongly. Having been on both sides of the fence, he gives credit to the men on the field and the pressures they go under. It's easy to forget that they're human.
“It’s a lot easier from the grandstand. When you were playing you always thought about the critics who were commenting on you and you got a little bit annoyed at them at times,” said Richardson.
“I think I found myself falling into that trap as a commentator. Up in the grandstands it’s very easy but when you’re down on the ground the pressure on the players is enormous and I think we can forget that sometimes as commentators.”
Reflecting on the night, albeit not a pleasing result for his new NRL team, Matt was impressed by the atmosphere created by the Rabbitohs Members and is looking forward to coming back.
"I've had a great time tonight and I thank Nick, your Chairman, for having me here and all the Souths supporters. I'll be back for sure and I've really enjoyed it," said Richardson.