Riggio ’50-50’ to play on in 2021
Swan Districts coach Adam Pickering says veteran midfielder Matt Riggio is undecided on his playing future for next season, ahead of Swans final match of the season against East Fremantle on Sunday.
32 year old Riggio will reach the 200 game milestone for Swan Districts against the Sharks, having ticked off his 200th WAFL match against Perth last Saturday after commencing his career at Peel Thunder with a solitary match in 2005.
After four years and ten games in the AFL system with North Melbourne Riggio was recruited by Swans in 2010, the last active player from the club’s historic premiership over Claremont that season.
Having won two best and fairest and become a life member of the club, Riggio has become a black and white fan favourite over the past decade, rarely missing a match and playing a variety of roles.
Speaking on WAFL World on Monday night, Pickering said Riggio was unsure if he would continue in to a 12th season with the club next year.
“I had a conversation with him a few weeks ago, he’s probably 50-50 at this stage,” he said.
“He’s pretty keen to get in to some coaching, which is why he has dipped his toe in to the water with our WAFLW team. It’s really time-consuming working full time, got a wife at home, coaching the WAFLW team and playing league footy.
“He’ll make a decision I’m sure over the off-season and I’ll support him whichever way he goes.”
Pickering said that another WAFL stalwart was set to retire after Sunday’s game against the Sharks, with former Royals midfielder Steven Payne likely to call time on his 150 game career.
“I’m pretty sure Steve Payne will hang up them up after this week as well, we will definitely have one retirement going in to this week.
I’ll speak to Matt (Riggio) during the week and if he wants to announce it, he will. If he doesn’t or he’s not sure I’ll let him be. It would be nice for everyone to know but as a 200-game player, dual Swan medalist and captain of the club I’ll let him make that decision.”
Riggio was influential in his team’s 27 point upset win over Perth on Saturday, Pickering admitting the emotion of the occasion lifted his side.
“He’s the type of guy that you would love to run out alongside each week,” he said.
“He’s just a terrific club person, it’s an honour to coach him really.”
Despite leading all day, Pickering said he never really felt comfortable in the coaches box.
“I was stressed until about the 23 minute mark of the last quarter. It’s well documented our last quarters haven’t been great, we’ve dropped away for periods of time throughout the year for margins of games.
“When you’re doing that and you have only had one win for the year, it’s definitely not feet on the dashboard by any stretch. But we were really happy with the way the boys played, they were good from start to finish on the weekend I thought.”
Despite only winning two games so far for the season, the third year Swans coach believes his side is tracking in the right direction for 2021.
“I feel like we have improved, I feel like a few of our young kids have taken big steps forward this year. Josh Cipro, Jesse Turner, Jiah Reidy, Jackson Beck, these kids are really starting to find their feet at league level now.
“If we can get the job done this week it will definitely be a positive outlook looking in to 2021.”
Pickering confirmed Victorian duo Frank Anderson and Sam Fisher had signed contracts for next year, while George Hampson has also indicated his desire to play on.
Swans play East Fremantle on Sunday at East Fremantle Oval, in what is both teams last match of the season.
IMAGE: The West Australian.