RICHMOND on Friday night secured the draft’s best small forward Jack Higgins as well as father-son gem Patrick Naishto add to its premiership mosquito fleet.
The Tigers warned they want to maintain the manic tackle pressure which led them to this year’s flag after landing Higgins, a 178cm wrecking ball from Oakleigh, with pick No. 17.
Higgins was rated the No. 1 player by Champion Data and laid 15 tackles in a single game this season, but surprisingly fell outside the top-15 picks.
It helped kick-start a golden draft haul for the Tigers who were able to bolster their spine with three valuable talls before welcoming Naish at pick No. 34.
South Australian captain Callum Coleman-Jones (pick No. 20) is a 201cm ruck-forward, Noah Balta (No. 25) is a super-athletic key defender and 196cm Subiaco ruck Ben Miller (pick No. 63) has nice speed for a big man.
Naish said he was thrilled to land at Richmond where his father played 143 matches and join forces with close mate Higgins.
“’Higgo’ and I always roomed together so I’m so happy for him,” Naish said.
“He played more midfield and I was on the wing, so he would always give it out to me, but since he moved forward we kicked it a lot to each other in the carnival.
“I think Higgo and I can add to that (Richmond’s) pressure and also add a bit of class to the group which is exciting coming off a premiership and then bringing in someone like Higgo.
“He is a superstar.”
Richmond recruiting manager Matthew Clarke said Naish could develop in a Bachar Houli mould and was optimistic Higgins may push for selection from early next season.
“All our blokes have got to be able to pressure and ‘Higgo’ can do the offensive stuff and do the defensive stuff as well, so that was a big tick for him,” Clarke said.
“We thought he was outstanding this year and he couldn’t have done much more.
“Every level he played at he performed at. Hopefully that will translate and maybe he will play some VFL footy or maybe he will go straight in, I don’t know.”
Clarke said the plan was to get at least two talls to help bolster its spine.
He said Balta had significant upside but was happy all three big men had physicality and size.
“We are not really sure what Noah really is, he is a really athletic player so he could play in defence, he could play in attack,” Clarke said.
“He could play as a key forward who bounces around and runs into people and marks it.
“Talls usually take time so I think ‘Higgo’ has got a bit more a chance to play earlier than the other big boys.
“But physically, one thing about those three boys is that they are all big strapping boys.”