PUBLICLY, Sydney's All-Australian defender Ted Richards brushed off his ankle injury in the days before the grand final. But after the Swans claimed the premiership he admitted the ailment that struck eight days earlier had him nerve-stricken about his ability to mind Hawthorn's Lance Franklin in the biggest game of the year.
While Richards said the ligament damage in his left ankle improved steadily after Sydney's preliminary final last Friday night, his build up was largely an exercise in hasty rehabilitation.
“I was definitely worried about it,” he told The Sunday Age.
“I was pretty much icing it flat out throughout the week. It was basically rest all week.
“I always thought I'd be playing, it was just a matter of how it would be.”
While Franklin was one of the best players on the field – kicking 3 goals 4 behinds – Richards was pleased to have survived the day and received treatment at every break in the epic match.
“I thought he played really well,” Richards said of Franklin.
“I tried my best to limit his influence, but he was good when the ball was in the air, good when the ball was on the ground, and just as he does he just hunted the ball and turned 50-50s into shots on goal.
“I tried my best, I think I would have been beaten, but I'm just excited we won.”
A former Essendon player who relocated to Sydney in 2006, Richards is yet another success story from the Swans. Only two years ago, when he was battling in the reserves for extended stints, Richards believed his football career was over and was making plans to move to Sweden to study.