COBDEN teenager Brendan Richardson is thriving as a key defender despite giving away weight, height and experience every week.
Richardson, 19, has found his niche in defence this season and has nullified some of the Hampden league’s most prolific forwards.
His first two senior seasons were spent as a utility, playing at half-back, half-forward or on a wing.
Richardson now feels settled playing a key defensive post in a team searching for grand final redemption.
It was in last season’s grand final loss where Richardson got a look at his playing future.
“It’s been a good challenge. It all started in the grand final last year when I played on Jason Rowan and ever since then the coach has given me opportunities to take on a few of the big tasks,” he said.
“I didn’t expect it to happen but when I was thrown there I made the most of it and had a crack.
“It’s paid off and it led to the role this year.”
Richardson said he enjoyed taking on the league’s power forwards.
He’s restricted Warrnambool’s Travis Graham, Camperdown’s Dan Casey, Terang Mortlake’s Stephen Staunton, Koroit’s Sam Dobson and North Warrnambool Eagles’ David Haynes.
He also spent time on Port Fairy coach Sam Rudolph, who started forward when the two sides played a draw in round eight.
“You rock up on the Saturday and you see your name on the board with a match-up and it gets you more pumped to beat them and you know you have a job to do,” Richardson said.
Richardson knows that at 185 centimetres and 75 kilograms he has to try and outsmart his opponent.
“I can’t say I am the heaviest fella out there so sometimes I get pushed out of the contest,” he said.
“They are a lot bigger than me. Not to be cocky but my leg speed and reach on my arms helps close down on the bigger ones a bit.
“The main thing during pre-season will be to do weights and chuck a few kilos on.”
Richardson said Graham, whom he kept to one goal in round 11, was his toughest opponent.
“He is a really good player. He has speed and I couldn’t close down on him too much,” he said.
Richardson, who lives on a dairy farm at Jancourt East and travels into Camperdown where he’s in the first year of a plumbing apprenticeship, sees his long-term playing future at Cobden.
Richardson was in the Geelong Falcons’ squad last year but opted out as the Bombers’ form peaked near finals.
Fellow Cobden rising stars Sam Cunnington and Mick Salmon also withdrew.
Richardson said while the decision to leave came down to limited opportunities with the TAC Cup side, he learnt a lot from the elite underage program.
“You are watching video footage and structures and it definitely helps you,” he said.
Cobden hosts Port Fairy today desperate to atone for its round eight effort.
Richardson said the Bombers were eager to book a top-three berth and push for another flag tilt.
He said the ‘‘Baby Bombers’’ had learnt a lot from their meteoric rise.
“It all happened really quickly. This year you know what it is all really about,” he said.
“Now we have lost one it drives you a bit more and you want to get to that stage again.”