Josh Rachele in action during the Showdown in round three, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

HE HAS the Rocky tune and the rock star moves and Josh Rachele has plenty more up his sleeve.

Adelaide's exciting goalkicker joins Cal Twomey for Cal's Q&A this week to discuss the brilliant start to his AFL career, moving to the Crows, Adelaide's hot start, boarding school, his soccer background and what's next in his run of eye-catching goal celebrations.

You're the AFL's new goal celebrations star. Walk me through some of the ones you've rolled out so far this year.

A lot of us were doing the bow and arrow in pre-season for some fun and every time I'd kick a goal at training I'd pull out the bow and arrow celebration. That came to mind in round one so I just did it then and we were playing Port Adelaide in a couple of weeks so I wanted to stir the fire a little bit before that. I did the horns after a goal against GWS because I thought we were going to come back and it's also one that the Giants guys have done a bit. It's nothing too serious.

The boxing one has really taken off. What was its origins and are you set on it now?

We had to choose a goal song this year and I've always been big on Rocky Balboa movies – the Italian stallion – so I chose that song. After I did it I saw Tim Cahill had reshared it. The Port goal I just did a few uppercuts and then I really jumped on the Tim Cahill bandwagon after he got around it so the credit goes to him. I'm set on it but there's still a few soccer ones that I want to whip out so I still have a bit of variety. I don't think I'm going to be sticking with the same one every time but that's probably the go-to.


Is there any hint what is still to come?

I'd like to do one like (Kylian) Mbappé. He likes to jump up and put two hands under his armpits so that's one I really want to whip out. I'm waiting one day until I kick a crazy goal but I can do a backflip. If I kick a goal after the siren or kick a crazy one from the boundary, that is definitely coming out … only at a home game though.

The response from Tim Cahill continued your relationship with him. When did that start?

It started when I was at Melbourne City playing soccer when I was 13 or 14 and they were playing a practice match in Shepparton. I'd recently signed with them but I hadn't trained with them properly yet. He came down when he was still there and we caught up for a little bit and he gave me a little bit of advice. He passed on his number if I ever had any questions. I was pretty amazed recently when I saw my Instagram he'd reshared one of my goals and he'd followed me with his half a million followers. I checked the DMs and he'd slid in and wished me well and was saying he was happy to see how I was going with my footy so that was cool to see.

You've always been a big celebrator, it's not new just because you're in the AFL. Do you think we're seeing more of players showing their personalities?

It's definitely a trend. In sports like basketball and NFL they're really big celebrators, but I don't think it's ever been a big thing in footy until the past five or 10 years. Before then it was always about getting back to the person who gave you the ball and 'Tex' (Taylor Walker) is always reminding me to do that. [But] if I was Darcy Fogarty on the weekend I reckon I'd be turning straight to the crowd! I feel like a lot of us young boys are embracing it and it's not just a thing to have all eyes on you, it gets everyone else up and going. It's similar to what Tom Papley does when he kicks his goal and he has his arm going around in the air, it creates excitement in your team.


There's been plenty to celebrate for the Crows. What do you put the lift in form down to this year?

We knew we could play like this. It was hard in 2020 when 'Nicksy' (coach Matthew Nicks) came in and we had a couple of years of developing but we did show signs last year. But we've had the recruits in 'Daws' (captain Jordan Dawson) and 'Ranks' (Izak Rankine) who have set up that level of class forward of the ball and also having Rory Sloane come back in has really helped drive that too. It's got a lot to do with how we trained in the pre-season and attacked that. We know we're going to have our ups and downs this season but as long as we keep that defensive mindset that's crucial. We focus on keeping teams under a certain limit because at the end of the day we can have all our attacking forces but if we're not defending well then we're not going to win games.

What was your first thought when you heard you'd be playing alongside Izak Rankine this year?

I was extremely excited. It can get hard from an individual viewpoint as a small forward and last year I did struggle at times so to have him come in and learn off him has been great. We're always discussing guys we have played on in the past who have really shut us down. We speak about who can block for who and who goes into the centre bounces as well to free us up. It does cause a lot of chaos when we switch between the midfield and forward line and we did practice that a lot in the pre-season. I'm just keen to play with him for however long our careers go for, it's been a joy so far.

Josh Rachele and Izak Rankine celebrate Adelaide's win over Carlton in round five, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

This year you've spent about half your game time in the midfield. It's probably the first time you've played in the midfield since we saw you dominate at under-16s level there.

I've been loving it. It's helped me when I've gone forward as well because I've been in and around the ball and then been able to go forward and make an impact. I haven't played much midfield time since that carnival and have played all my juniors as a forward and it's really helping my game. Even if I'm not touching the ball I'm around it and tackling and making an impact with my pressure that way.

I've watched you play a lot as a junior and you always wanted the ball in your hands when it mattered. Where does that come from?

It comes down to just knowing I've done the work. I pride myself on my kicking so in those pressure moments I feel like I've practiced it a lot so why not go and just attack it. I've got full confidence from the coaching staff and the boys that they want to have the ball in my hands. In those pressure moments the better players do stand up and that's something I want to be known for.

This might be the Italian stallion, Rocky side of you coming through, but you spend a lot of time in the gym as well. How much work has gone into getting your body ready for the rigours of the top level?

It started for me when I was about 13 when I joined Melbourne City's youth team and I got into my leg weights. I started well before most guys and when I came into that 15-16 range I was probably pretty well built around my legs especially. It's always been a big focus for me. But now getting paid to play footy and go to the gym, you have to utilise the resources you have and that's been a big thing with our high performance team. They drive us every day to get better and better and we have massive competitions on who can bench-press or squat the most.

Are you winning any?

If we go from my weight compared to what I'm benching, I think that's at the top. Guys like Tex and Riley Thilthorpe have 20-25 kilos on me but we're pushing similar weights around.

Josh Rachele poses during Adelaide's 2023 official team photo day at West Lakes. Picture: AFL Photos

You landed at Adelaide as pick No.6 in the 2021 draft after the Crows had been linked to you for a while, had you got your head around making the move to South Australia?

They told me a couple of days before the draft that if all five picks before went right, that I was definitely going there. On the night there were a few things that were happening and I thought there was a chance I went to Gold Coast. But I got picked by the Crows and to have guys like Jake Soligo and Luke Nankervis who I knew of, but wasn't extremely close to, come with me and now be my best mates and housemates has been an absolute joy. We all love being around the Crows and we want some sustain some success and play all our careers here.

How is that household going with Jake and Luke?

It gets very rowdy, that's for sure. We're massively into playing FIFA at the moment. I think we played about three hours of PlayStation yesterday just game after game. We've got a basketball ring out of the front as well so we're always competing with everything but I love living with those guys.

You are part of a cohort that lost a lot of experiences in 2020-21 through COVID-19. How did you fare during that time missing things you can't get back?

It was disappointing. The big thing for me was going to boarding school at Caulfield Grammar and not fulfilling that whole boarding experience. I was in and out with COVID breaks and I'd go back and forth to Shepparton. It was disappointing to miss out on formals and 18ths but I loved the times we did have in the early part of the under-18 season. It was sad we didn't get to play a national championships but I had a week at Carlton through the Academy so it was good to make the most of what I could.

When you were at Carlton Adam Saad said you looked like a third Daicos brother. On Sunday you come up against the Magpies and Nick Daicos, who was in your draft class. How are you looking forward to that?

I'm really keen to play against the Pies and Nick, just seeing his success is exactly what he was doing at under-18 level and if you want to be the best player you have to play well against the best teams and players. We want to make it five wins in a row and if we want to have a real crack at finals this year it's going to be a good test for us. We'd love to have another strong win at home at Adelaide Oval.

(Back L-R) Ben Hobbs, Finn Callaghan, Mac Andrew, Sam Darcy, Josh Gibcus, Nick Daicos; (Front L-R) Josh Ward, Campbell Chesser, Josh Rachele and Josh Sinn in their new colours after the 2021 NAB AFL Draft. Picture: AFL Photos

How much do you stay across your draft group and see how they're faring?

I do like to check in and see how everyone's tracking. There's a lot of guys in our draft year who have played a lot of football so that's great to see we can come in and make an impact. We did miss a lot of footy during those COVID years but we've shown we can play at the level so it's a testament to everyone.

What would your fellow boarders say about you in the boarding house?

It depends who you asked! I think there'd be a few mixed answers. We did used to love playing as year 12s against the younger boys in basketball and did that a lot. We went through the Tik Tok phase as well, (Giants player) Cooper Hamilton and I, where we'd kick goals from the boundary line and do some crazy celebrations. I think that's where it all started to be honest.

During your draft year you had some comparisons to Toby Greene. How was it to hear those?  

I had been linked to him my whole draft year and he was someone I modelled my game on and even to this day he's a fantastic player. But it was a big thing I wanted to emphasise to everyone that I am my own player and I want other guys to look up to me as well.

Everyone hears and talks about the Adelaide footy bubble. How have you found your quick rise of fame in such a footy hungry city?

It's pretty crazy to be honest. A lot of people don't realise it until they get here, and I was like that too. I always thought Melbourne's the big footy city but I think South Australia is probably even more so. The two-town team means you always have people yelling out 'Go Crows!' or 'Go Port!' or little things like that.

Has it come with making any adjustments?

Coming in I had to change my number plates! I had Victorian ones and my car got egged a couple of times where my host family was so I had to change that.


How much did your host family help you settle in when you first arrived?

I moved in with Sav and Maria Ruggiero, they're Italians as well, and they've had a lot of the boys over 12 years or so. They weren't going to do it any more and then they saw me get drafted and they hadn't had an Italian boy stay with them so it was a match made in heaven. They contacted me straight away and I was really keen to move in with them. They're a second family for me and every couple of weeks they get all the boys who have stayed there over the years to come in and have dinner so that's good too.

How was your family with the Shepparton floods that hit over summer?

It was very hard. We were quite lucky with my house, we didn't get too impacted but it did damage a few of our orchards which was a bit disappointing. My home club Shepparton Swans was fully under water so it was quite devastating. We did a lot of fundraising and it was good because they actually had their first game back there on the weekend so they got some portable changerooms and the ground's looking back to normal. At the time it was scary and devastating for all of those country towns.  

The Rachele name was big in Shepparton even before you started at the Crows. Your dad Jason was a pretty good player, wasn’t he?

Yeah, he says he was a good player. Dad was a pretty well-known country footballer and played at the Shepparton Swans for about 250 games. He's a bit taller than me, about 185-186 but in those days he was a centre half-forward. He played a bit of Vic Country as well and one game at the Murray Bushrangers and then decided to quit and focus on the orchards. What he tells me is he reckons he was a better footballer than me.

But could he do a backflip if he kicked a goal?

Oh no way. He's a bit uncoordinated in those type of things.