In his debut season, Richmond’s Sydney Stack was involved in a moment that created plenty of debate.
The talented youngster, of Noongar heritage, was playing just his 11th AFL game against the Adelaide Crows when he made the decision to congratulate direct opponent Eddie Betts who had moments prior kicked a stunning goal at the Adelaide Oval.
The embrace between the two players was met with differing opinions in the media and general public but to Stack, it was simply his way of paying tribute to one of the game’s best indigenous players.
He did something similar with Geelong’s Gary Ablett the week before the Betts interaction which he explained to Konrad Marshall in Stronger & Bolder – Inside the 2019 AFL Finals Series wth Richmond.
“I’m a Noongar, and Noongars are very competitive,” Stack said when referencing the Betts moment.
“But we all want to bring one another up, and help. We grow up playing against the older brothers and cousins, and get better because they don’t take it easy on us. Eddie’s not a Noongar, but I still see him as a leader and an elder.
Eddie Betts (featuring Sydney Stack) wins our Goal of the Week! Is there anything the great man can't do?🔥 pic.twitter.com/6ygTfVJwNU
— FOX FOOTY (@FOXFOOTY) June 18, 2019
“And I’m still in disbelief that I’m playing footy among these legends. We were playing Geelong the other week and I ran past Gary Ablett Junior, and I just tapped him on the back and said, ‘You’re a legend mate’, even though we were down.
“I feel like I’ve gotta let these stars know that I’m excited to be there. Footy is my job now, and I treat it that way, but I don’t feel it that way. So, shaking Eddie’s hand – that’s just about respect.
“Who knows when he’s going to stop playing footy? It was a privilege to play against such a legend like that. I felt honoured.”
After he was picked up by the Tigers via the supplemental selection period, Stack went on to play 17 games in his first season at the elite level, dazzling with his deft skills and delivering destruction with his toughness.
Stack, 19, was a Rising Star nominee, was named Richmond’s best first-year player and won the VFL premiership with the Tigers in his debut season in the yellow and black after he was overlooked in the national and rookie drafts.