Frankston goalkicker Corey Rich’s breakout 2018 Peter Jackson VFL season after crossing to the Dolphins from Sandringham took many by surprise – including himself.
The 21-year-old mobile forward finished fourth on this year’s VFL goalkicking table with 34 majors from his 18 matches – which included hauls of six, five (twice) and four goals in a team that won twice for the season – and was subsequently named in the VFL Team of the Year.
183cm Rich managed just six senior games for the Zebras across 2016-17 after graduating from the Sandringham Dragons TAC Cup program and couldn’t resist an offer from Frankston senior coach Adam Skrobalak to transfer to SkyBus Stadium for 2018.
Rich’s time spent in Sandringham’s Development League team last season provided an unlikely scouting opportunity for prospective mentor Skrobalak – also St Kilda’s AFL ruck coach.
“Adam was the one who got me across to Frankston and I’ll be forever thankful for that,” Rich said at the recent Victorian State Combine. “I wasn’t playing the footy to be in Sandringham’s best 22, but ‘Skrob’ had watched a little bit of me because (Saints ruckman) Lewis Pierce was also playing in the Development League last year.
“He said he’d love for me to come down to Frankston and it was a no-brainer for me.
“Coming across, my goal was to play 18 VFL games. I wanted to prove to myself that I was good enough to be a consistent VFL footballer and it turned out to be better than just making up the numbers, which was a huge bonus.”
Rich’s surprise about what he was able to produce inside 50 for the Dolphins was doubled when he received his Combine invite, saying he “had no inkling, no idea” that AFL clubs were paying attention to him ahead of the NAB AFL Draft on November 22-23.
His ability to potentially win matches off his own boot is one obvious attraction to suitors, but so is the promise of what else he might be able to do on the field in future.
“Sometimes it just clicks,” Rich said of his goalkicking. “A game that comes to mind is (Round 21 against) Richmond – in the last quarter it just clicked for some reason (five majors for the term). It’s a funny game like that, football.
“I see myself as potentially that high forward like (Richmond’s) Kane Lambert, who can play a role at stoppages but then also be influential going back towards goal. With my running ability I could maybe go on the wing, because I don’t mind getting behind the ball and being able to help out the defence.
“I was also lucky enough to play as an inside midfielder at times when my form wavered in the middle of this year, which was beneficial as well. Playing forward probably comes most naturally but I’ll play wherever the team thinks I fit best.”
THE AFL DRAFT WATCH ‘FAST FIVE’ with Corey Rich
Why should an AFL club draft you?
“For my ability to play a role at a stoppage but to hurt them on the way back forward.”
What is the funniest or weirdest question you’ve been asked by an AFL club?
“Haven’t spoken to any, so none of the above.”
Who is your football idol?
“As a kid I was always a North Melbourne supporter, so it was Glenn Archer. I loved his hardness, his competitiveness and the way he went about it.”
Who is the best VFL prospect for joining an AFL list this year?
“Josh Corbett (Werribee and now Gold Coast AFL). With Gold Coast losing (key forward Tom) Lynch, he is an obvious solution for them.”
Which of your 2018 teammates should also be in draft consideration?
“Definitely Will Fordham and also Lachie Young. (Fordham) has added that hardness to his game that maybe people saw he lacked previously. (Young) for his athleticism; (he) could be a really damaging half back type of player.”