The GIANTS have strengthened their forwardline and added some midfield depth after a successful second night at the 2019 NAB AFL Draft.

The GIANTS went down the mature-age route with 20-year-old Jake Riccardi joining from VFL side Werribee and 24-year-old Tom Hutchesson plucked from Adelaide’s SANFL side. 

Riccardi was selected with the GIANTS’ third selection of the draft (51st overall) following a pick swap with Collingwood.

GIANTS National Recruiting Manager Adrian Caruso said: 

“We were always hoping to try and push into the middle part of the draft if the players we liked were available. 

“Once we hit around pick 40 onwards we were really trying to get in, in a similar way to last year.

“Jake Riccardi was the player we targeted, we thought, ‘Okay he’s available we need to get in and get him’.

“We started to hit clubs up to try and get in and eventually we got a bite in Collingwood and they were happy to do that deal.”

Riccardi, a powerful forward who won the 2019 Fothergill-Round-Mitchell Medal as the best young player in the VFL, played 20 games for Werribee this season, kicking 38 goals.

“We’ve tracked him for a few years, he was an inexperienced young forward growing into his body at 18 when he played for the Calder Cannons a couple of years ago,” Caruso said.

“We knew he was going to take time and what we saw from him in the back half of the year at Werribee was a great indication that he had come on.

“His finals performances were really encouraging for us and gave us the confidence to know that he was developing.”

Hutchesson who – until his name was called out – worked as a carpenter, impressed as a top-up player for the Crows’ SANFL team across 14 games playing in the midfield or off half forward.

Originally from Millicent – a town of just under 5,000 people 399km south-east of Adelaide – Hutchesson became the GIANTS’ oldest draftee not to have been listed by another club when he was selected with pick 65; the final selection of the 2019 Draft.

“We looked at all of our options with that late pick and we knew there weren’t going to be many options slipping through to there,” Caruso said.

“Tom was really one we targeted; our South Australian scout Tyson Bourke spotted him earlier in the year in Adelaide’s SANFL team.

“He’s a boy from Millicent, he’d had a really good country footy career and we really like his speed and his aggression, and just his ability to get out of traffic. 

“We feel he’s got a lot to offer us as that small forward who can go into the midfield.”

Riccardi and Hutchesson’s selections on Thursday night made it four players chosen by the club at this year’s draft following Lachie Ash (pick 4) and Tom Green (pick 10) on Wednesday night.

“We’re rapt. If you spoke to us at the start of the draft and said that those were the four players, we would have definitely taken it,” Caruso said.

“It was always the plan for us to take Ash and Green on night one and night two it was going to be difficult for us to get back in and get Riccardi, but we were obviously rapt to be able to do that.

“That probably exceeded our expectations. We were always confident that Hutchesson was going to be there with our last pick, but you never know what other clubs are going to do.

“As a whole we feel like we’ve addressed our needs, brought in players that are going to help us in the short term and they’re definitely going to help us in the long term, which is a priority as a recruiting team.”

The GIANTS will have the chance to add to their playing list on Friday morning when the 2019 Rookie Draft takes place at Marvel Stadium in Melbourne.