AFL

Ultimate Player Showdown – Riewoldt v Koutoufides

Koutoufides-V-Riewoldt

Nick Riewoldt and Anthony Koutoufides.

One is in the twilight of his career, another is a retired great – both are legends of the game.

Koutoufides revolutionised the way tall half forwards play the game today, certainly a player ahead of his time. Riewoldt on the other hand has mastered the position.

This is why we have paired these two legends of the game in the first installment of Footy Prophet’s Ultimate Player Showdown.

Anthony Koutoufides

‘Kouta’ as he was known by his contemporaries, was a player well ahead of his time. Koutoufides revolutionised the way half-forwards play the game today, in particular, the centre half-forward position.

Not only did Koutoufides change the way his position was played, given he was one of the most powerful and athletic players of his time he could transition into any other position on the ground with ease, seeing him become the prototype of the modern footballer.

Originally from Lalor and growing up as a Collingwood supporter, Koutoufides was invited to train with Carlton’s Under-19 squad in 1987 and never looked back, making his senior debut in 1992.

Growing up playing multiple sports, Koutoufides was even touted as being a potential Olympian. Thankfully though, he transferred those skills into his AFL career, and used it to play as the mobile half-forward we all know him for.

Koutoufides changed the position entirely with his gut running up the ground, whilst his ability to also slot deeper seamlessly to kick a couple of goals was what made him such a tough opponent to deal with.

He was not only able to succeed early in his career during his teams’ great success (1995 premiership) but during Carlton’s darkest times in the latter stages of his career, Koutoufides continued to outperform his counterparts, still proving to be an extremely tough opponent to play on.

Some of his career highlights include being a two-time member of the All-Australian team (1995, 2000), as well as leading the Blues’ goal kicking in 1997 and captaining the side from 2004-07.

This just shows how consistently good he was across his career, a testament to his outstanding work ethic, which was widely evident in the style and manner in which he played.

He was explosive and oozed endurance, a combination which changed the way the game was played and the way half-forwards are expected to play in this position.

Career highlights:

  • Leigh Matthews Trophy (AFLPA MVP): 2000
  • Robert Reynolds Trophy: 2001, 2005
  • All Australian: 1995, 2000
  • Carlton Captain: 2004–2006
  • Carlton Leading Goal kicker: 1997
  • Carlton premiership team: 1995
  • AFL and Carlton life-member
  • Victorian State of Origin: 1999
  • Australian Football Hall of Fame inductee 2014
  • Greek Team of the Century: Vice-Captain
  • VFL/AFL Italian Team of the Century: Centre Half-Back

Nick Riewoldt

A modern day great – Nick Riewoldt is one of the hardest working players in the league, despite the fact that he is in the twilight of his career. Riewoldt personifies courage and commitment, always giving his full effort in any contest he approaches.

Taken with the number one selection in the 2000 draft, Riewoldt has gone from strength to strength ever since his debut season, seemingly stepping up a gear each year to help lead the Saints into contention.

What makes Riewoldt such a hard opponent to compete with is his endurance. Riewoldt’s tank is what has seen him continue to terrorise opposition defenders to this very day, never appearing to run out of steam.

Riewoldt has been a real key to the success of the Saints in the past and their current rise, with his gut running up the ground vital to his side’s forward attacks. He creates space for his more ‘stay-at-home’ type forwards by running up the ground, which in turn enables his side to move the ball quicker, and makes it harder for his opponents to lessen his impact.

But Riewoldt not only has the ability to help put his side into a position where they can score, he is also very capable of impacting the scoreboard himself as he has a wealth of experience when in front of goal.

Riewoldt’s goal sense mixed with his mobility are key reasons as to why he is one of the greatest modern day forwards, and why he is one of the greatest forwards ever full stop.

The fact he plays like a half-forward flanker (usually a lot smaller in stature) as a centre half-forward, sees Riewoldt as a player who continues to help revolutionise the game. His seemingly ‘never-ending’ tank sees opposition teams to this day struggle to find a suitable defender to contain him, which is largely why he is a such a great forward of the game.

Career highlights:

  • St Kilda captain: 2005, 2007–2016
  • 6× Trevor Barker Award: 2002, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2014
  • Leigh Matthews Trophy: 2004
  • 4× St Kilda leading goalkicker: 2008, 2009, 2013, 2014
  • 5× All-Australian Team: 2004, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2014
  • AFL Rising Star: 2002

Verdict

Although Koutoufides was a player ahead of his time, Riewoldt has truly mastered the position. The fact he’s been able to consistently produce stronger seasons that Koutoufides did, even in the latter stages of his career, sees him edge out Koutoufides.

Nick Riewoldt has been a rock for the Saints his entire career, and his endurance now comes as an expectation for up and coming half-forwards, truly revolutionising the position and the game.

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