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NAB AFL Rising Star round 16: Jake Batchelor

Richmond's Jake Batchelor is the round 16 NAB AFL Rising Star
RICHMOND'S Jake Batchelor can partly thank rival Tom Scully - or more specifically his knee - for his rise through football ranks.

Scully's knee became a talking point earlier this season after missing most of the early part of the season through injury.

But what isn't quite as well known is that Scully's knee also had a big part to play in the fortunes of Batchelor.

Scully broke his knee cap in the lead-up to the Dandenong Stingrays' 2009 TAC Cup Grand Final against the Calder Cannons.

The injury was a devastating blow for the Stingrays but it opened up a spot for Batchelor who had been on the fringes of selection for much of the year.

The Stingrays lost the Grand Final but Batchelor's exposure to the big stage played no small part in his eventual drafting to Richmond 14 months later.

Batchelor, who is this week's NAB AFL Rising Star for his 22-possession performance against Essendon, says he knows how fortunate he is to not only be drafted but to remain in his home state in an increasingly national competition.

"To me it wasn't so much about whether or not I was going to stay in Melbourne, it was about whether or not I'd get drafted," Batchelor said.

"I've had a few mates from Dandenong Stingrays who got drafted interstate so I'm pretty lucky with that and also to go to such a fantastic club as Richmond."

Batchelor says he makes as much effort as possible to speak with his former Stingray teammates, particularly those who find themselves in foreign cities.

"I don't speak to them as much as I'd like to but I definitely have spoken to them all throughout the year," he said.

"I spoke to Luke Parker (Sydney Swans) just a couple of days ago about his game. I speak to Tom Lynch from Gold Coast quite a bit."

Batchelor has exceeded all expectations, including his own, having played 13 of Richmond's 15 senior games so far since debuting in round one against Carlton.

"I wasn't expecting much. I would have been happy to play a couple of AFL games but to play this many is great," Batchelor said.

"I've just been stoked to have been given the opportunity by all the coaching staff down here and keep having faith in me to get a couple more games which I'm really thrilled about."

He says he has hopes to hold down his spot as a rebounding player from defence and has already picked the brains of two senior Tigers who know a little about the craft.

"I hope so. I'm enjoying it very much, obviously with two great leaders in Brett Deledio and Chris Newman at the moment," he said.

"It's great to have those two down there and be able to learn off them. If I can hold down a spot there I'll be a very happy man."