Coming out of defence with the ball in hand is a balancing act.
Go too slowly, and the opposition has time to set up its defence, and the chance to score is greatly diminished. Going too quickly, and failing to pull it off, can leave your side exposed and the red carpet to goals is laid out for the other team.
The balance is extremely fine, a tense struggle between risk and reward. The best rebounding defenders can sum up the play a fraction of a second after getting the ball, seeing how it might unfold. Rich is one of the finest in the competition at weighing up the options, and choosing correctly.
After years of injury and positional uncertainty, Rich’s fortunes were changed with the arrival of new coach Chris Fagan, who entrusted Rich to make the most of his strongest weapons, and instilled the belief his best footy was still ahead of him.
Fagan’s rebuild at the Lions started with shoring up the defence, and that necessitated Rich’s full-time move down back. That proved Rich with positional certainty, and a clear use for his dangerous left boot.metasports
After his first season, legendary key forward Jonathan Brown called him probably the best kick he had played with — some honour considering the ranks of the three-peat Lions.
The insider midfielder has long been considered the most valuable role on the ground, critical to determining the cut and thrust of the game. But some inside football circles call Rich’s current role the most important; transitioning the ball from defence to attack is critical to the ebb and flow of the modern game.