By: JESS WEBSTER
Ex-Swan Xavier Richards joins Sydney Uni
Sydney University has won the race to secure the services of former Sydney Swans forward Xavier Richards.
The 23-year-old played 12 games for the Swans, including last year’s AFL Grand Final, but was delisted after seeking a trade back home to Victoria at the end of the 2016 season.
Richards, who is currently overseas, will join his new teammates in their first training session of 2017 on Monday.
New Sydney University coach Tom Morrison said it is a massive boost for the club to secure a high-quality talent.
“It’s exciting for the club, and it’s a good sign for our NEAFL program that he was willing to sign with us,” he said.
“He obviously had a lot of other clubs from all over the country, in particular from Melbourne, chasing after his signature. It’s a bit of a feather in the cap for our program.
Richards was recruited to Sydney in the 2012 AFL Rookie Draft and made his AFL debut in Round 12, 2013.
He began last season as a defender in the NEAFL, but a mid-season move to the forward line reaped huge benefits, with 26 goals from six goals earning his place at AFL level in Round 18.
Richards went on to play every game for the Swans for the rest of the AFL season before his exit from the club.
Morrison said his ability to play at both ends of the ground will be a big asset for the Students as they chase a maiden Grand Final appearance after two consecutive Preliminary Final berths.
“Having multiple key forwards is an area that we’ve lacked in in previous years,” he said.
“We’ve only really had Jacob Derickx down there, and he has done a terrific job, but it meant that our avenue to goal was a bit more predictable than it will be this year with three or four really talented talls in that area.
“Part of my role is to get him back on to an AFL list as much as it is to make sure we perform well for the upcoming NEAFL season.”
Sydney University has also signed six of Sydney’s NEAFL Development Squad players from last year, including Rising Star nominees Matt Wilson and Ned Reinhard, and Swans’ NEAFL Grand Final players Darcy Baron-Hay, Ryan Hebron, and Nathan Cooper.
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