YOU KNOW a Shane Edwards handball when you see it.

Or more accurately, you don't see it.

Just a Tiger teammate streaming away with the ball tucked under his arm, several opponents grasping at thin air, after Edwards has seemingly bent the laws of time and space to set up yet another goal.

FROM TITCH TO TITAN Edwards looks back on his journey

The lively Edwards – who will become just the fifth Richmond player to reach 300 games on Sunday – has perfected the art of the handball.

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Tiger no-looker to Butler on the burst

Shane Edwards has eyes in the back of his head to find a running Dan Butler

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At his best, with furrowed brow and tongue poking out in concentration, he sees space where you swear there is none, reads the play one move ahead of everyone else, and pulls off a front-and-centre crumb at perfect speed.

To watch Edwards live, ignoring general play and tracking his running patterns for a few minutes, is to receive a masterclass in timing, reading the game and positioning.

"He's an amazing player, and he makes everyone around him better, that's what's so good about playing with Shane," teammate Jack Graham said.

"His ability to see the game, how he can create space, how he can get you in a better position with his handballs. He's faster than everyone thinks, and he's a great teammate to play with."

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The superb touch and vision in Edwards' goal assist

Shane Edwards is all class to find an open Jason Castagna in space

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For most of his career, Edwards has been underrated, mostly because it's very difficult to pick up exactly what he does on the field without the benefit of several replays.

So much so, it became vogue for commentators to use the term as a near-permanent prefix to his name when calling a Richmond game, culminating in an All-Australian selection in 2018, and finishing second in the Tigers' best and fairest in the premiership year of 2019.

THE NUMBERS TO 300 All the stats in Edwards' career

Edwards is a big-game player too, polling two votes in the 2017 Norm Smith and four in the 2020 edition, with only the incomparable Dustin Martin and ever-steady Bachar Houli polling more in the Tigers' three flags (Jayden Short also had six votes over that time).

Shane Edwards and Bachar Houli after Richmond's 2017 Grand Final win against Adelaide. Picture: AFL Photos

But when he joined the Tigers, he was just an almost impossibly skinny kid from Golden Grove in Adelaide, taken with pick No.26 in the 2006 NAB AFL Draft.

It was Richmond's second selection in that draft, behind fellow 300-gamer Jack Riewoldt. The pair have now shared 275 games together, the second-highest teammate tally at Tigerland behind legendary duo Kevin Bartlett and Francis Bourke.

Back in 2019 ahead of his 250th game, Edwards joked to AFL.com.au the club had to scramble to find a small No.10 guernsey for his draft photo, as the previous holder of the jumper was giant ruckman Greg Stafford.

300-game Richmond players Kevin Bartlett, Shane Edwards, Francis Bourke and Jack Riewoldt in July 2022. Picture: Getty Images

Fellow small Nathan Brown was in the last stages of his career when Edwards came to Punt Road, the pair sharing the forward line alongside Kayne Pettifer, Andy Krakouer and talls Matthew Richardson and Jay Schulz, among others.

It was a team in transition, still featuring stalwarts Greg Tivendale, Joel Bowden and Darren Gasper, while the likes of Nathan Foley, Daniel Jackson, Shane Tuck, Jake King and Riewoldt were starting to establish themselves.

"My first impressions of Shane Edwards was how much in awe of the football club and the environment he was. The first thing I noticed was how respectful he was," Brown said.

"He was only small – I mean he's still only slight for an AFL player all these years on – but just how respectful he was to everyone, how in awe he was of players like 'Richo', he lived with (then-captain) Kane Johnson.

Richmond's Matthew Richardson, Richard Tambling and Shane Edwards against West Coast in R5, 2007

"Now, I guess, the whole thing has turned around where everyone else now is in awe of him, his achievements and his standing in the game."

Edwards' talent was obvious from the beginning, but it didn't all go his way.

"We used to play a lot of handball games under Terry Wallace when Shane first started, and you could tell in those games he just had peripheral vision that other players didn’t, and he could just do these magic little things that others couldn't," Brown said.

"He didn't have the consistency to match that in the first few years, but the second half of his career has been a lot better, he's gotten better and better with age.

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Titch's work of art

Shane Edwards kicks a goal of the day contender

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"What sets Shane apart is the fact he was willing to listen. He was always a kid with unbelievable natural talent, but you find a lot of times, kids who come in with natural talent don't listen, they probably think they know best, and their talent will get them through.

"He had a natural talent, but he also had a work ethic, and he was willing to take on advice and he was willing to learn from the best. It's a rare combination."

As the seasons passed, the softly spoken Edwards' influence at the club grew.

CEO Brendon Gale spoke earlier this week about how Edwards' development mirrored that of the club, which won just three games in his first season of 2007.

Shane Edwards in action for Richmond against Hawthorn in R6, 2008. Picture: AFL Photos

The midfielder didn't get an opportunity to bellow "yellow and black" until his 13th match (although he notched up the first of his equal VFL/AFL-high seven draws in the process).

The nickname progressed from 'Titch' to 'Shedda', and Tiger fans were tickled by an ongoing gag in Richmond's 'Hello, Newman' video segment, which would see Edwards silently and randomly appear in a teammate's house as they took Chris Newman on a tour.

Now 33, Edwards looks back at those early days and wishes he was more outspoken, having grown in confidence so much he captained the club on six occasions in 2019 on the way to another flag.

Shane Edwards with family after Richmond's 2020 Grand Final win over Geelong. Picture: AFL Photos

"I wouldn't change too much about how I approach things. Maybe speaking up a bit more early in my career. I was pretty shy – I still am pretty shy," Edwards said.

"Saying what I thought and having a voice. A lot of the time the young guys know what's going on and they're often right, but we just don't hear them until they're in their mid-20s."

In the early days of Dreamtime at the 'G, Edwards – an Arrernte man – was occasionally the club's sole Indigenous player.

Richmond's Indigenous players perform a War Cry before facing Essendon in R10, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

He is now the veteran, with Daniel Rioli and Maurice Rioli jnr, Matt Parker, Rhyan Mansell, Sydney Stack, Shai Bolton and Marlion Pickett also on the list, with the club welcoming the Korin Gamadji Institute into its Punt Road headquarters 10 years ago.

Edwards – who wore the No.67 in 2017's Dreamtime match to mark 50 years since the 1967 referendum which recognised Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in the constitution –  will be just the eighth Indigenous player in the league to reach 300, drawing level with Gavin Wanganeen.

"We're really lucky here, we're able to play in the Dreamtime game every year, so that's obviously been a huge highlight," Edwards said.

"It's something that's grown every year and it's at a stage I didn't even think was possible when it first started. The Dreamtime games each year are my favourite games. I'm speaking on behalf of the boys, but I think a lot of the boys at our club love that game."

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Creative Edwards the Dreamtime star

Shane Edwards leads the Tigers to a powerful victory in Dreamtime at the 'G

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Graham has followed in Edwards' footsteps 10 years later, attending the same primary and high schools, and also drafted out of North Adelaide.

"Golden Grove High School wasn't the biggest footy school or anything like that, it was more your local school, so knowing there was an AFL footballer who had come from there gave me huge belief that maybe I could make it," Graham said.

"Off the field, he's always up for a beer and always up for a laugh, which is good. What us younger boys do is always try to pick his brain, he tells stories about what Richmond used to be like before we had success.

"I think he's seen the worst, but also the best, over his career. He speaks about how there were some tough times, but they've made him who he is today and he wouldn't have it any other way, to come from the bottom to the top over the past few years.

Shane Edwards meets the fans after Richmond's 2019 Grand Final win over GWS. Picture: Getty Images

"I love seeing Shane Edwards in the centre clearances, his ability to sidestep, shark the opponent's hitout, and then see him steaming out of the stoppage. But normally, he's handballing off to people in a better position.

"I don't know where his best position is, you could put him anywhere. Even a few years ago he was down at half-back and I loved seeing him intercept there, it was pretty special."

As to what happens once the playing journey has come to a close, Edwards is keen to move into list management.

"I'd love to get into recruiting one day. The recruiting staff at Richmond, Blair (Hartley) and Matty Clarke, they've opened their arms to me over the last four to five years, really helped me learn a few things outside the game," Edwards said.

"I'm just thinking about the actual 300 game on the weekend, maybe 301. Sticking the four in front of it (to make it to 400), I don't know how those guys have done it, I already feel like I've been playing for a lifetime."