Dion Prestia

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Dion Prestia
Prestia handball (cropped).jpg
Prestia playing for Richmond in March 2017
Personal information
Nickname(s) The Human Meatball
Date of birth (1992-10-12) 12 October 1992 (age 27)
Original team(s) Calder Cannons (TAC Cup)
Greenvale (EDFL)
Draft No. 9, 2010 AFL National draft: Gold Coast
Debut Round 2, 2011, Gold Coast
vs. Carlton, at The Gabba
Height 175 cm (5 ft 9 in)
Weight 82 kg (181 lb)
Position(s) Midfield
Club information
Current club Richmond
Number 3
Playing career1
Years Club Games (Goals)
2011–2016 Gold Coast 095 (30)
2017– Richmond 060 (21)
Total 155 (51)
1 Playing statistics correct to the end of 2019.
Career highlights

AFL

Junior

Sources: AFL Tables, AustralianFootball.com

Dion Prestia (born 12 October 1992) is a professional Australian rules footballer playing for the Richmond Football Club in the Australian Football League (AFL). He previously played for the Gold Coast Football Club from 2011 to 2016 and was a member of the club's inaugural side, playing its first AFL match in 2011. In 2017 and 2019 he was an AFL premiership player with Richmond.

Early life and junior football[edit]

Prestia grew up in Melbourne's inner-northern suburbs, playing for the West Lalor Junior Football Club in the Diamond Valley Football League before moving to the Greenvale Football Club in the Essendon District Football League (EDFL).[1][2]

In 2009 Prestia began playing with the Calder Cannons in the TAC Cup.[3] He was a member of the club's premiership side that season and playing in 10 games total across the year.[4] He held averages of 24 disposals, three marks and three tackles per game.[5] Prestia returned to the club in 2010, again playing a key role on the way to premiership glory. He was a standout performer in the preliminary final and played a starring role in the club's Grand Final victory, kicking a goal and recording 36 disposals and eight clearances.[6] Prestia finished the season having played nine matches with averages of 28 disposals, four marks, five tackles and a goal per game.[5] Prestia was the runner-up in the club's best and fairest award, the Robert Hyde Medal.[7] He placed 11th in the Morrish Medal, the award given to the league's best and fairest player.[5] He was further recognised for his contribution to the club, when in 2015 he was selected in the Cannon's "Team of the First 20 Years".[8]

Prestia was selected to represent the Victorian Metropolitan side at the national Under 18 championships in 2010.[5] His tournament was short-lived however, as despite recording 21 disposals in the opening game of the tournament, a torn hamstring sustained in his second match would see him ruled out for the remainder of the series.[9]

He attended high school at Assumption College in the Victorian town of Kilmore.[10]

AFL career[edit]

Gold Coast (2011–2016)[edit]

Prestia was drafted by the Gold Coast Suns with the club's fifth selection and the ninth selection overall in the 2010 AFL National Draft.[11]

In the 2011 pre-season, Prestia was earmarked by coach Guy McKenna as the choice for the player likely to be have the best career amongst the Suns' underage recruits.[12] Prestia made his AFL debut in the club's inaugural AFL match, against Carlton in round 2 of the 2011 season.[13] Prestia played three straight matches before spending six weeks away from the club's senior side. He returned the team in round 10 and played in all of the next 14 consecutive matches. He kicked his first career goal in round 11 against West Coast and played in his first win in round 17 against Richmond.[14] Prestia finished the season having played 17 matches and recording 16.5 disposals per game. His 42 clearances was good for ninth best at the club while his 280 total disposals ranked 10th.[14]

Prestia played the first nine matches of the season in 2012, including in round 6 where he recorded 32 disposals, his first time breaking the 30 touch barrier.[15] He suffered a hamstring injury early into the club's round 19 loss to Melbourne.[16] He spent time on the sidelines as a result and would not return to play again in 2012. At the end of the season he had played just 14 matches.[14]

Prestia with Gold Coast in May, 2012

2013 marked a "breakout year" for Prestia according to the Herald Sun's Sam Landsberger.[17] In round 9 Prestia was named among the Suns' best by AFL Media, with 32 disposals and a goal in the 26 point loss to Hawthorn.[18] Prestia set a career best in tackles in round 10, when he laid 12 against Geelong in the loss at Kardinia Park.[19] He was once again named in the bests in round 11, this time with 28 disposals against North Melbourne.[20] Prestia played a stand-out role in the club's round 14 match against Adelaide. He recorded a career-best 42 disposals and a career-best two goals in the match.[21] He received three Brownlow votes for the match, his first such best-on-ground for his career.[22] Prestia played his 50th career match in round 22, in a loss to St Kilda at Etihad Stadium.[23] At the conclusion of the season Prestia had played in a then-best 20 games, recording a club-second 509 disposals.[24] He placed second behind club captain (and three time consecutive winner) Gary Ablett Jr. in the club's best and fairest award.[25] Despite interest from multiple Victorian clubs including Melbourne and St Kilda, Prestia stayed true to the Suns and signed a three-year contract extension to remain on the Gold Coast until the end of 2016.[26][27]

Prestia had an outstanding pre-season ahead of 2014, showing real determination in training and recording a personal best in the two kilometre time trial.[12] He did however suffer a minor calf tear in February, that would restrict his training load in the immediate run-up to round 1.[28] After being a member of the Suns' emerging leaders group in 2013, media speculation in early 2014 suggested he was ready for a role in the club's leadership group proper and that he was even a possible future captain of the club.[12] He was later elected by his peers to join the group and to serve as one of the club's vice-captains.[28] He began the season in exceptional form, recording 20 or more disposals in each of his first 13 matches. He had more than 30 disposals in five of those 13.[14] Prestia was a stand-out in the club's round 10 victory over Western Bulldogs, with 25 disposals, five tackles and six marks to his name.[29] He received best-on-ground honours with three votes in the Brownlow Medal tally that round. With the win the Suns finished the round in the top four of the ladder, the first such occasion in club history.[29] To that point in the season Prestia was the 21st ranked player in the league according to the AFL's official statistics partner Champion Data's ranking point system.[30] Prestia was instrumental in round 13, where his 11 disposal quarter helped the Suns compete in an ultimately narrow loss to St Kilda. He finished the match with 38 disposals.[31] For the first time in his young-career, Prestia finished the season playing in all 22 of the Suns' matches that season. He gathered 25 or more disposals in 15 of those games, and ranked number one at the club for total disposals (596), equal-first for clearances (118) and third for inside-50s (87), all while kicking a career best 10 goals.[32][33] He placed third in the club's best and fairest award for his efforts in the superb season.[25] His 13 Brownlow Medal votes was the second most of a Suns player, behind Gary Ablett's 22.[34]

Another injury-interrupted pre-season awaited Prestia in 2015, when he injured his hamstring in a training incident late in 2014. To that point, he had been a stand-out on the training track, winning the club's 2 km time trial and looking likely to repeat the form of the 2014 season.[35] He played his first football that year in the club's final NAB Challenge hit-out, showing no signs of his injury with 29 disposals in the draw against Brisbane Lions.[36] In round 1 Prestia was the Suns' best-on-ground, picking up 29 disposals and a Brownlow vote in the Suns' loss to Melbourne.[37] round 3's loss to Geelong saw Prestia continue what AFL Media called a "rich vein of form", with a team-high 29 disposals in the match.[38] After five rounds Prestia was the number one clearance winner in the league (46). To that point he was also ranked 14th in the league for disposals (142) and fourth for contested possessions (76).[39] During the Suns' round 8 match against Collingwood, Prestia went down with what appeared was a serious knee injury. Scane later revealed he had suffered a torn lateral meniscus in his left knee.[40] With 12–16 weeks forecasted on the sidelines, Prestia's season effectively came to an end.[41] He had played in all eight matches to that point in the season, recording equal-career bests in average disposals and goals per game as well as leading the competition for total clearances.[14][41]

Entering the 2016 season media speculation surrounded Prestia and his contract status at the Suns.[42] With just one year left on his deal with the Gold Coast, he was the target of recruiting efforts by multiple clubs around the league.[43] As with the previous two seasons, Prestia would again serve as a club vice-captain in 2016.[44] Prestia would return to fitness in time for the Suns' round 1 clash with Essendon, recording 29 disposals and one goal in the victory.[45] By the end of round 9 Prestia was the third leading disposal getter at the Suns (24.9 per game) as well as second for contested possessions and third in clearances, inside-50s and tackles.[46] For the second straight year Prestia would suffer a season ending knee injury when he sustained a knock in the club's round 16 win over Brisbane.[47] Minor surgery would follow, but the recovery time would rule him out for the rest of the season after playing just 14 matches that year.[48]

Before the season was over, media speculation concerning Prestia's future was again intense. By mid-July he was linked to offers from Carlton, Melbourne and Richmond.[49] One day after the Suns' last game of the season, Prestia announced publicly that he was seeking a trade to a Melbourne-based club.[50] To this point he had received a five-year contract offer from Richmond and was expected to announce the club as his preferred destination.[51] He did so on the 31st of August, setting the table for the two clubs to arrange a deal for his exchange[52] He had played 95 games with Gold Coast over a six-year period. Prestia had played the eighth most games of any Suns player, and was the club's second highest disposal and clearance getter (2241 and 422) and third highest tackle getter across his time there (421).[53]

Richmond (2017–present)[edit]

2017 season[edit]

Prestia kicks during play in round 2, 2017

Prestia was officially traded to Richmond on 19 October 2016, in exchange for a first round draft selection and a swap of second round picks.[54]

He spent much of his first Richmond pre-season on light duties, still recovering from knee surgery underwent on the Gold Coast.[55] Prestia made his Richmond debut in the opening match of the season, Richmond's round 1 victory against Carlton at the MCG. He finished the match with a team-second 28 disposals as well as six clearances, five tackles and a goal.[56] The 73,137 strong crowd was the largest Prestia had ever played in front of, with the previous top of 49,069 coming in 2014 against Adelaide at the Adelaide Oval.[57] In early April club officials revealed Prestia would likely remain on a reduced training load for the entire season, in an attempt to keep him fit and able to play his first full season in three years.[58] Prestia's 22 disposals and seven tackles in round 4 helped Richmond to a victory over Brisbane and the club's first 4-0 start to a season since 1995.[59] He played his 100th career match in Richmond's round 5 win over Melbourne, recording 20 disposals in the process.[60] Prestia was held from playing in the club's round 7 match against the Western Bulldogs due to a hamstring injury.[61] He returned two weeks later in a match against the GWS Giants at Sydney's Spotless Stadium in round 9.[62] Prestia upped his training load in June, participating twice a week for the first time that season.[63] He recorded a season-best 35 disposals and nine marks in round 11's win over North Melbourne in addition to five clearances and five inside 50s.[64] After round 13 Prestia ranked equal third in the league for smothers that season (15).[65] Prestia's season was labelled as "poor" by Herald Sun chief football writer Mark Robinson in July, claiming he had "under delivered" as a "big name recruit on a big contract."[66] In round 17 Prestia was given the task to run with Brisbane Lions All Australian Dayne Zorko.[67] He was largely effective in the role, keeping Zorko to just 11 disposals, his second lowest tally of the season.[68] Complications with his knee and calf issues returned in late July and forced Prestia to miss one match in round 19.[69] Prestia repeated his run-with role upon his return in round 20, this time against another All Australian midfielder, Hawthorn's Tom Mitchell.[67] While Mitchell remained prolific with 35 disposals, his kick tally of nine was his lowest for the year.[70] Meanwhile, Prestia had 31 disposals himself, including 17 kicks and a goal.[71] By round 20 Richmond had qualified for the year's final series, Prestia's first in his seven-year career.[67] During the pre-finals bye, Prestia was the subject of media attention after leaving training early due to an ankle injury. Though he and the club assured it was only minor and would not keep him from playing, he did reveal it was the continuation of an ankle issue that had plagued him for a majority of the 2017 season.[72] In Richmond's qualifying final victory Prestia had what The West Australian called it "one of the best games of his career." He had an equal game-high 31 possessions and quelled the influence of Geelong captain Joel Selwood, who was held to just six kicks.[73] But that win was not Richmond's only that September, with Prestia's side beating Greater Western Sydney in a preliminary final and earning their way to a Grand Final match-up with minor premiers Adelaide.[74] He turned in a starring performance in what would be a premiership winning side, contributing 25 disposals and a goal and earning two votes in the Norm Smith Medal.[75] In receiving a premiership medal he became the first inaugural Gold Coast Suns player to do so since he made his debut there in the club's first match six years earlier.[76] Prestia finished the year having played 22 matches, the equal most of his career to that point.[14] He ranked third at the club for clearances, fourth for average disposals and fifth for tackles.[77] Prestia placed tenth in the club's best and fairest count.[78]

2018 season[edit]

In the weeks immediately following his side's 2017 premiership victory, Prestia underwent minor ankle surgery.[79] It saw him face a minimally restricted pre-season program, confined to running exercises until mid-January.[80] He faced another set-back in mid-February however, after sustaining a hamstring strain while training.[81] He missed both of Richmond's JLT Community Series pre-season matches as a result despite aiming for a return in the second match of the series.[81] A minor re-occurrence in early March saw him fail to play in round 1, instead making his return to football through the VFL the following week.[82][83] He was impressive in that match, recording 19 disposals, eight tackles and five clearances on less than three quarters of game-time.[84] He was named to make his return to AFL football in round 3 but was withdrawn from the team just a day later when he suffered a fresh glute strain at training, reportedly unrelated to his earlier soft-tissue injuries.[85][86] Prestia finally made his AFL return in round 4, but was reduced to limited minutes as a precautionary measure. Despite the restriction he proved an influential player, contributing 23 disposals and a game-high seven clearances in his side's 93-point demolition of the Brisbane Lions.[87] He remained in the side for a further three weeks including in round 7 where he sustained a minor calf injury and sat out the closing stages of that match.[88] Scans confirmed no serious damage but the club was conservative with his recovery, opting to sit him out of the following week's match but expecting him to miss no more than two weeks.[89][90][91] After three consecutive matches on the sidelines however, the club eventually revised their expected return date for Prestia, indicating he would miss at least a further three matches.[92][93] By mid-June Prestia had made a return to conditioning work, allowing him to return to match play in round 15's clash with Sydney.[94][95][96] The following week he was among Richmond's best players when he recorded 28 disposals, six clearances and a game high 11 score involvements in a win over Adelaide, earning him five coaches award votes.[97] In round 18 he posted a career-best total of three goals against St Kilda in a performance that earned him a maximum 10 coaches award votes.[98][99] Prestia suffered a broken rib in the match that followed, forcing him to miss one week with the injury.[100] While he played the full match upon his return in round 21, Prestia suffered a sore hamstring and missed round 22's clash with Essendon before playing in the club's final match of the home and away season in round 23 against the Western Bulldogs[101][102][103] After the club secured the minor premiership, Prestia played a key role in Richmond's qualifying final win over Hawthorn with 26 disposals, five clearances and seven inside 50s along with being named by AFL Media as one of Richmond's best.[104] In the season-ending knock-out preliminary final loss to Collingwood that followed, Prestia recorded 24 disposals but was labelled by Fox Footy as "below his best".[105] Prestia finished the year having played 13 matches and placed 11th in the club's best and fairest count despite that low tally.[106]

2019 season[edit]

In the lead-in to the 2019 season, Prestia completed a largely uninterrupted pre-season for the first time in three seasons as a Richmond player.[107][108] He played in each of the club's two pre-season matches before turning in a 20 disposal and seven tackle performance in the season's opening match against Carlton at the MCG.[109][110][14] Two weeks later he recorded 33 disposals and was named by The Age as Richmond's best in a round 3 loss to Greater Western Sydney[111] From the following week forward, Prestia assumed a larger leadership role in the Richmond midfield, following the loss of Dustin Martin to suspension in round 4 and the longer term injury loss of captain Trent Cotchin that same week.[112][113][114] In round 5 Prestia was named as the game's second best player with seven votes in the Coaches Association player of the year award following a team-high 32 disposals and game highs in inside 50s (10) and clearances (eight).[115] He added a further six votes the following week, before adding to that with two and four votes in wins in rounds 9 and 10 respectively.[116][117][118] Prestia continued to play good football through the club's mid-season bye, having played all 13 matches and averaging 25.6 disposals per game.[14] In the first game following the bye, Prestia returned to his best, winning three coaches votes in a win over St Kilda at Marvel Stadium.[119] Prestia was best on ground in a win over his old side the Suns the following week, recording team highs in disposals (28) and tackles (nine) while also contributing eight clearances and seven score involvements to earn nine of a possible ten coaches votes.[120] He split best on ground honours with forward Tom Lynch in round 18, again leading the team for disposals and clearances.[121] To that point in the season, Prestia had climbed 60 places in the AFL's official statistical player ratings, from the 102nd to the 40th best player in the league.[122] He was also leading the competition for loose-ball gets and ranked ninth for pressure acts.[122] In round 19 Prestia led Richmond to another win with 35 disposals, equaling his best tally in three years at the club.[14][123] Along with Lynch, he was the only other Richmond player to play in every match to that point in the season.[124]

At season's end Prestia was named in the squad of 40 players in the running for All-Australian selection that year and won the 2019 AFL Grand Final. [125]

At the end of the season and finals series, ranked second in the competition for total clearances that year, fifth for disposals and fourth for contested possessions. He was also named as the league's eighth best midfielder ninth best player overall in the Herald Sun chief football reporter Mark Robinson's list of the league's best players in 2019.[126]

Statistics[edit]

Statistics are correct to the end of the 2019 season[14]
Legend
 G  Goals  B  Behinds  K  Kicks  H  Handballs  D  Disposals  M  Marks  T  Tackles
Season Team No. Games G B K H D M T G B K H D M T
Totals Averages (per game)
2011 Gold Coast 41 17 1 7 138 142 280 49 60 0.1 0.4 8.1 8.4 16.5 2.9 3.5
2012 Gold Coast 41 14 2 4 135 141 276 39 59 0.1 0.3 9.6 10.1 19.7 2.8 4.2
2013 Gold Coast 10 20 9 8 292 217 509 78 86 0.5 0.4 14.6 10.9 25.5 3.9 4.3
2014 Gold Coast 10 22 10 8 309 287 596 83 102 0.5 0.4 14.0 13.0 27.1 3.8 4.6
2015 Gold Coast 10 8 4 5 110 107 217 16 39 0.5 0.6 13.8 13.4 27.1 2.0 4.9
2016 Gold Coast 10 14 4 2 172 191 363 34 75 0.3 0.1 12.3 13.6 25.9 2.4 5.6
2017 Richmond 3 22 7 12 259 252 511 62 93 0.3 0.5 11.8 11.5 23.2 2.8 4.2
2018 Richmond 3 13 7 2 175 138 313 41 41 0.5 0.2 13.5 10.6 24.1 3.2 3.2
2019 Richmond 3 25 7 15 386 300 686 86 123 0.3 0.6 15.4 12.0 27.4 3.4 4.9
Career 155 51 63 1976 1775 3751 488 678 0.3 0.4 12.7 11.5 24.2 3.1 4.4

Honours and achievements[edit]

Team

Individual

Junior

References[edit]

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