Forward Jake Riccardi is ready to take his game to new heights in 2022 as he settles into his third season at AFL level.
After some interest elsewhere at the end of last season, the 22-year-old showed his commitment to the GIANTS when he re-signed for two more years – a move he says was a no-brainer in the end.
Drafted at pick 51 in the 2019 NAB AFL Draft, Riccardi burst onto the scene in round 13, 2020 and in his five games that season kicked nine goals, earning himself a NAB AFL Rising Star nomination.
In 2021 he suffered a pre-season ankle injury and returned to the field in round four to go on and play nine games, kicking two goals.
Despite the pre-season COVID curveballs that continue to cause challenges for all clubs, Riccardi admits the group have been adapting well.
“It’s been good. It’s had its challenges with COVID and having guys in and out of training, but we had another big session today and I think the next few weeks we’ll just keep building on that and continue working hard into round one,” Riccardi said.
“I think for me, the biggest question I asked myself when I was going through the re-signing process was, ‘where am I going to feel my most comfortable?’
“I love it here at the club - I love the people that work here, the guys that play here, and everything about it. Just the vibe of our group, the culture we’re building, and the group as a whole – they were probably the biggest things for me.
“I would have found it very difficult to leave, so I needed to be true to myself and knew this was the place where I thought I could play my best footy, so it was a pretty simple decision for me in the end.”
The pain of losing a final is always a tough one to swallow, and after being knocked out by Geelong in a semi-final last season, the GIANTS will be looking to take it a few steps further when they suit up for their round one clash in just under eight weeks.
A blockbuster Sydney Derby at Accor Stadium on March 19 has been locked in for the GIANTS’ first game of the 2022 AFL season.
The GIANTS’ pre-season schedule has also been released which will see them take the field for a practice match against the Swans in late February, before an AAMI Community Series match against Collingwood at GIANTS Stadium on March 6.
“Last year we had another taste of finals and I think every club will tell you they want to win the flag and obviously we’re the same, but there’s a real sense around the group that we’re not just a talented group, but we’re also a very tight-knit group and we’re just going to throw everything we can into every game we play,” Riccardi said.
“We know what it takes to win, but we know what it feels like to lose. I’m sure we’ll take a little bit of that semi-final feeling into round one against the Swans to hopefully beat them in a close one.
“I was lucky enough to play in our round five game against the Swans last year and I thought that was probably one of the most enjoyable games I’ve played in in my career so to play at Accor Stadium with hopefully a massive crowd there – we can’t wait.”
Tickets for the 2022 season will go on sale in the coming weeks but GIANTS memberships are on sale now with packages available to suit everyone.
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