Sydney Stack is fast becoming a cult figure at Richmond.
Sydney Stack is fast becoming a cult figure at Richmond.

Stack ‘was calling himself Byron Pickett’

He was overlooked by all 18 clubs during the draft period, "cleaned up" vice-captain Jack Riewoldt at a Sunshine Coast training camp in January and is said to have made himself physically ill multiple times during pre-season as he gave his all to impress Richmond in search of a spot on the club's list.

Last night, another chapter was written in the remarkable tale of Sydney Stack, who is quickly taking on cult hero status at the Tigers.

 

Stack, who doesn't turn 19 until Sunday, wore a mouth guard with his last name written on it last night - and it's lucky he did.

The rookie cleaned up Melbourne co-captain Jack Viney - who weighs in 12kg heavier than Stack - with a bone-crunching bump during the last quarter, which only won him more admirers after an impressive first month of his AFL career.

"He was calling himself Byron Pickett after the game there," Riewoldt told Fox Footy last night.

"He cleaned me up on the Sunshine Coast, actually.

"He tried to take on Mummy (Greater Western Sydney's Shane Mumford) in his first game and Mummy sort of chased him for a little bit.

"That (bump on Viney) is obviously a big hit in a big game with a lot of people watching it but it's nothing new to his game. It's something we weren't expecting when we saw him. He's light of frame.

"All you ask for is them (young players) to come in, put their head over the ball and play their role in the team and those guys (Stack and Jack Ross) are doing it to a T at the moment."

Western Australia under-18 coach Peter Sumich rated Stack a top-10 draft pick last year and believed the young star's off-field issues which scared off clubs were "an easy fix".

Stack eventually won his chance under new pre-season list rules and lived with Richmond coach Damien Hardwick during his audition.

"All the clubs knew he had a few issues off the field but he wasn't a kid that went out and got drunk and carried on or anything like that," Sumich said on SEN radio this morning.

"It was just a minor thing in my opinion which the AFL inner sanctum and clubs, it was an easy fix in my opinion because once he was going to be in an AFL club all that would have been fixed up very easily because his attendance and his training and all that would have been an easy one.

"We pushed hard for him to get a job which he quit, or virtually got the sack from, because of his attendance. So his off-field in that area was fairly poor but we were working really hard with him and it wasn't his fault a lot really because his upbringing, he'd come from Northern which is about an hour and a half north of Perth and no family, living in three or four houses."

 

Sydney Stack in action at the AFL U18 National Championships. Picture: Getty Images/AFL Media
Sydney Stack in action at the AFL U18 National Championships. Picture: Getty Images/AFL Media

 

Sumich, a two-time West Coast premiership player, said the bump on Viney last night had come as no surprise to him either, rating Stack one of the toughest indigenous players he had ever seen.

"Stephen Michael back over here in Perth, a Western Australian, he was one of the toughest indigenous players ever to go around," Sumich said.

"I watched him, I was fortunate enough to play one game with him. I rate Sydney on that par in toughness. I'd never seen a kid go through and if it's a ground ball, he'll just go through and try and get it and whoever's in his way he just keeps going.

"Then on top of that he's got silky skills, which most indigenous players do have."

Stack's manager Paul Peos told the Herald Sun this week that Stack had "a real knack for the occasion".

He wasn't wrong.