NEW YEAR, new cult hero.
Twelve months after Jack Higgins' "snags" and his fast-talking, quirky ways endeared him to Tigerland and the general AFL community, an equally captivating redemption story is developing at the same club.
Sydney Stack was not long ago the All Australian under-18 star who no club wanted in last year's drafts.
As of Wednesday night, his coach and former housemate Damien Hardwick was talking about the Richmond faithful erecting a statue in Stack's honour at Punt Rd.
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Hardwick told AFL.com.au on season eve that Stack reminded him of his 2004 Port Adelaide premiership teammate Byron Pickett, whose bone-rattling hits still give opponents nightmares.
Melbourne co-captain Jack Viney discovered the hard way in the opening seconds of the fourth quarter on Wednesday night why Hardwick's comparison was so apt.
Viney accepted a handball, swung around preparing to drive the Demons inside 50 and was instead met with the teenager's full force from the opposite direction.
"Yeah, it was unbelievable – you sort of heard it before you saw it. He was that quick," Hardwick said after the match.
"We all know how tough Jack Viney is, too, and both those boys aren't going to take a backward step.
"It was funny, we're probably summing up Sydney's game and he's slowly become a fan favourite.
"He's taken a hanger, he did a massive bump and he's kicked a torpedo (all in the same game) – they'll be building a statue of him across the road shortly, the Richmond faithful."
GAME BREAKER Young Stack lights it up in Anzac Day Eve clash
Viney sat disconsolate and clutching his right shoulder in the moments afterwards, before heading straight to the Melbourne rooms and not returning.
Scans on Thursday will determine the damage.
As for Stack, he's just enjoying the ride – four games into an AFL career that might not have happened unless the Tigers took a chance in the new pre-season supplemental selection period.
Hardwick took him into his home, as he did with Daniel Rioli before him, and was immediately taken with how engaging he was and the way he embraced the coach's family.
He laughed about how "relentless" Stack was in ringing him to find out when training was on.
Hardwick also relayed a story about the 18-year-old tucking into a meat platter on his own on the side of the Hardwick family pool.
"We're very fortunate at this footy club that we embrace those types of characters and we allow them to be who they are," he said.
"Are they annoying every now and then? Yeah. But the reality is they are who they are.
"That's one thing Trent (Cotchin) and his leaders have really stood for, about embracing all personalities and diversities and once again we feel that gets the best out of all our players and we're very lucky to have them."
Stack moved in with Richmond development coach Xavier Clarke, a former Saint and Lion, earlier on Wednesday and is raving about how the Tigers in general have welcomed him.
"It's crazy. I'm just giving my best effort out there and playing my role," Stack told Channel 7 afterwards.
"All the boys make me feel welcome at the club. Shane Edwards and Daniel Rioli really got around me and helped get my diet right.
"I just feel like I have something to prove – missing out on the draft – so I'm showing other clubs how good I am."