Richmond veteran Jack Riewoldt has set himself up for major backlash by revealing deep misgivings about joining a Gold Coast hub, AFL great Matthew Lloyd says.
Riewoldt admitted that he cried when farewelling his wife and one-year-old daughter and said that he would be second-guessing his decision to leave his family throughout his time in Queensland. The Tigers were forced out by Victoria’s new COVID-19 crackdown, along with the state’s nine other clubs.
Lloyd said that Riewoldt had given his critics immediate ammunition if he failed to aim up while playing out of the hub. Richmond sit 11th on the ladder and must revive their premiership defence with a list beset by injuries and hub withdrawals.
“We all love the honesty of players and they sort of give us something and we whack them down a little bit,” Lloyd said on Footy Classified.
“But I think what will happen … we saw with [West Coast coach] Adam Simpson, where he spoke about, ‘We want an end date or we’re going home’; and because his team didn’t play well, got absolutely hammered.
“I think [that will be] the case possibly with Jack Riewoldt. The point he made, ‘Why am I here? I’m going to keep asking that question’.
“If Jack Riewoldt doesn’t perform, I think that interview will be played a little bit, saying, ‘Is his heart in it? Did he want to be there?'”
Columnist Caroline Wilson said that Riewoldt’s hub comments may have been tone deaf given the current lock-down situation in Victoria, amid spiralling coronavirus numbers.
“I love the honesty too, that’s what Richmond built a premiership on, admitting their vulnerabilities,” Wilson said on Footy Classified.
“But I think in a week when Victorians are locked up in housing commission flats and can’t leave, I think it was unfortunate that he talked about a shoebox of a room and a window that was very small.”
Collingwood president Eddie McGuire said that Riewoldt, who admitted he “cried like a baby” while leaving his family, was “half jocular and sending things up” during the contentious interview.
“But what he has to be careful in saying that, Jack, is exactly as you (Wilson) said: we are seeing people being locked up, we are seeing jobs going off a cliff,” McGuire said.
“And when players say, ‘I don’t even know why I’m doing it’, there’s a pretty easy solution for it and that is when you go into a depression, as we’re heading into … in the old days when the footballers played, they played with broken arms rather than give up their spot and that’s where people [don’t accept complaints].
“Can I just say this: 750 other players have been pretty good in this.”
Former St Kilda and Fremantle coach Ross Lyon added: “At some point you’ve got tp accept it, Jack.”
Riewoldt told Fox Footy: “I cried like a baby, which unashamedly it’s the one thing I’m going to struggle with more than anything else.
“I think over the whole period here I’ll constantly ask myself, ‘Why am I here? What am I actually doing leaving my young family to come up here and play a game?’
“But the club has given me so much over my career that I’m truly indebted to them and that’s why I’m here doing my bit for my football club while trying to do my bit for my family too.”