Just as Shaun Burgoyne did for him, Richmond’s Shane Edwards is hoping to inspire another generation of indigenous AFL stars.
Ahead of Richmond’s annual ‘Dreamtime at the ‘G’ clash with Essendon, Edwards said he grew up admiring the talents of fellow South Australian and three-time premiership player Burgoyne.
“Coming from Adelaide I always looked up to Shaun Burgoyne because he was one of the best players in the competition and still is now,” Edwards said of the Hawk.
“I’ve tried to model my game on him but it’s hard because he’s so bloody good.”
The Tigers midfielder/small forward is fast becoming a star in his own right, having his best season to date.
The 26-year-old showed off some silky skills in a stunning long handball to set up their first goal in Tigers’ win over Port Adelaide last round.
He said he’d tried to improve on his consistency but was still a work in progress.
“I still fall out of games but every now and then so I’m still trying to put good quarters together,” said Edwards, whose maternal grandmother was one of the Stolen Generation.
While always proud to wear Richmond’s indigenous jersey this one will have special family significance for Edwards.
The Tigers will wear a jumper designed by his 14-year-old cousin Derek Summerfield, who lives near Alice Springs.
“I had three designs to pick from at the start of the year and I picked his without knowing who had designed it,” Edwards said.
“By chance it was him and I’m really proud so I will get a chance to talk to him when he comes down for the match.”
Essendon have won the last three Dreamtime matches, which are held each year as part of the AFL’s Indigenous round.
With the Tigers finding some form and winning their last two, Edwards said it was important to keep the momentum going.
“We haven’t won it in a while and Essendon are always a quality side so it would be huge to win,” he said.
Edwards said while there was currently only one another indigenous player at Richmond in injured youngster Nathan Drummond he hoped more would be coming through.
“I’m hoping as the Dreamtime game gets bigger and better and more clubs get involved that more indigenous players play in the AFL,” Edwards said.