Edwards in June 2017
|Date of birth||25 October 1988|
|Original team(s)||North Adelaide (SANFL)|
|Draft||No. 26, 2006 AFL National Draft: Richmond|
|Debut||Round 4, 2007, Richmond
vs. Western Bulldogs, at MCG
|Height||182 cm (6 ft 0 in)|
|Weight||81 kg (179 lb)|
|Position(s)||Midfielder / Forward|
|Representative team honours|
|2015||Indigenous All-Stars||1 (0)|
1 Playing statistics correct to the end of 2017.
2 State and international statistics correct as of 2015.
|Sources: AFL Tables, AustralianFootball.com|
Early life and junior football
Edwards was born in South Australia to parents Tara and Greg. He spent his childhood years in the Adelaide suburb of Golden Grove and attended the local Golden Grove High School. He began playing football at age eight with the local Golden Grove Kookaburras.
While playing at Under-13 level he signed with his locally zoned SANFL club North Adelaide and began playing with the club's junior sides. He was a member of the club's Under-19 premiership in 2006. Edwards made his senior SANFL debut at age 17 and played 10 games at senior level in 2006.
At the 2006 national draft combine he recorded top three scores in the beep test, three kilometre time trial and the standing vertical leap test.
He made his AFL debut in Round 4 of the 2007 season in a match against the Western Bulldogs at the MCG. Edwards' first career goal came during his fifth match, in Round 10 against Brisbane. His first win came eight matches later, in Round 19 against Collingwood. At the conclusion of his debut season Edwards had played 16 matches, kicked 11 goals and held averages of 10.3 disposals and 2.1 per game.
Edwards again missed out on Round 1 selection in 2008 before playing his first match for the season in Round 4. He played eight straight matches before missing out for the club's Round 12 clash with Melbourne. He kicked goals in six of those matches including two goals in rounds 5 and 7 and three goals in Round 9 against Essendon. For his performance in that match he received his first Brownlow Medal vote. Edwards finished the season having again played 16 matches, but with one more goal and 20 more disposals than the previous year.
2009 began with Edwards in the club's best 22, where he stayed through the first three rounds of the season. But a six disposal performance in Round 3 saw him dropped to reserves level where stayed until Round 7. He did not go selected the following week however, and remained at reserves level until the midway point of the season. But when coach Terry Wallace was sacked prior to Round 12, Edwards saw new opportunity under caretaker Jade Rawlings. He was selected to play in Round 12 and kicked two goals to go with 17 disposals and six tackles in the clubs win over West Coast at the Telstra Dome. He did not miss a game for the rest of the season, recording an average of 13.6 disposals a game over the back half.
Ahead of the 2010 season incoming coach Damien Hardwick assured Edwards that his development was a club priority, promising he would be selected in all 22 of the club's home and away matches that season. He played in the club's first two matches of the season before playing his 50th career match in Round 3 against Sydney. He recorded his first ever 20 disposal performance in that match. In Round 10 he set a career high with 11 tackles against Port Adelaide He broke his own disposal record on four occasions including a season-best 28 disposals in Richmond's Round 18 win over Adelaide. As promised, Edwards finished the season having played in all 22 Richmond matches. He set then-career-best totals in all major statistical categories as well as in tackles and disposals per game. For his break-out season Edwards placed sixth in the club's best and fairest count.
Having cemented a spot in the club's best 22 the year prior, Edwards played in each of the first eight matches of the 2011 season. However, in Round 8, he injured his cheekbone in a centre-square collision at the opening bounce. He was immediately ruled out for the remainder of the match and missed a further two matches as a result of the injury. When he returned in Round 12 he would again secure his place, playing in the final 12 matches of the season and finishing the season with 20 games and four goals.
In a January 2012 time trial Edwards placed fourth of all Richmond players and maintained his claim as one of the club's most damaging runners. He played in the first three matches of the season before missing in Rounds 4 and 5. When he returned in Round 6 he did not leave the side, playing in each of the last 17 matches of the season. He held a multiple goal streak of six games when he kicked four lots of two and two lots of three goals between Rounds 8 and 14. The final match in that streak was the 100th of his AFL career, played in Round 14 against Adelaide at AAMI Stadium. He kicked a career high four goals in Round 20, 2012 against the Western Bulldogs at the MCG. In Round 22 Edwards was reported for and ultimately acquitted of a striking charge for a hit on Essendon's Angus Monfries. For the second straight season he finished with 20 games in the season, though improved his goal-kicking tally to 29. It was good for third best at the club that season and helped earn him an eighth-place finish in the Jack Dyer Medal count.
Edwards saw his role change slightly in 2013, playing more minutes in the midfield. In addition his leadership role was increased, captaining the club in its pre-season clash with the Indigenous All Stars in Alice Springs. In Round 6 Edwards recorded a career best 30 disposals in a match against Geelong at the MCG. He suffered an eye injury in the third quarter of the club's Round 10 match against West Coast. He was substituted from the game and did not return to add to his two-goal first half tally. With Richmond's bye the following week he was able to recover and avoid missing a match as a result of the injury. He did however miss matches in Rounds 20, 21 and 23 before returning fully fit to play in his first final, a losing effort against Carlton at the MCG. At years end he had played 20 matches, kicked 11 goals and set a then career-best tackles per-game mark. He placed 14th in the club's best and fairest that season.
2014 would prove an exceptional year for Edwards, but one which included a form reversal after a relatively slow start. After playing in Richmond's first six matches of the season Edwards would be played as Richmond's substitute in its Round 7 match against Geelong. Despite the setback he ultimately kicked two goals in just 39 per cent time on ground. In late May he signed a new two-year contract extension, forgoing the lure of unrestricted free-agency. By Round 15 he begun to turn an average season into a special one, with a 20 disposal and six clearance match against St Kilda. He was later named among the club's best players for a 21 disposal and one goal performance against the Greater Western Sydney in Round 21. Edwards then played his 150th AFL match in Richmond's Round 22 win over St Kilda. During the club's nine match win streak from Round 15 to 23 he averaged 20.7 disposals, 11.2 contested possessions, one goal and 3.5 tackles per game. He again played in a losing elimination final in 2014, this time contributing 11 disposals and one goal in the match against Port Adelaide. At season's end Edwards was awarded the Fred Swift Medal for placing fourth in the club's best and fairest count in 2014. He was also awarded Richmond life membership in December that year after celebrating his 150th match for the club at AFL level.
As with the back-half of 2014, Edwards would again attend centre-bounces and play a predominately midfield role in the 2015 season. He started the season by recording 21 disposals together with game highs in clearances (7) and contested possessions (15) in Richmond's win over Carlton at the MCG. He received six votes (second to only Taylor Hunt) in the AFL Coaches Association award for the match. He missed Round 2 with calf tightness but made a quick return to kick a goal and wrack up 26 disposals in Round 3's win over Brisbane. The Richmond club website named him the Tigers' best on ground the following week after he recorded 24 disposals, two goals, seven clearances and five tackles in the Round 4 Anzac Day eve clash against Melbourne. After six rounds he held averages of 22 disposals, five tackles and one goal per game. He again missed a match in Round 7, this time with a corked calf. Edwards was named best on ground when he was awarded three Brownlow votes in Round 9's Dreamtime at the 'G match against Essendon. He was fined $2,500 by the AFL Match Review panel after he was found to have started and partook in melee in the club's Round 10 win over ladder-leading Fremantle. At the mid-season bye Edwards held averages of 21.6 disposals, 0.88 goals, 4.4 tackles and 4.6 clearances per game and was considered in the discussion for end of season All Australian honours. In Round 13 Edwards was bumped off the ball in an incident that saw Sydney forward Lance Franklin suspended for one week. Edwards was named among Richmond's best players for a two-goal game, 24 disposal performance in Round 14 against the GWS Giants. He was substituted in the third quarter of the next week's match after suffering a lower leg injury. Scans later revealed he had sustained a hairline fracture in his right fibula and initial estimates placed a two to three week timeline on recovery. He ultimately missed five matches of AFL football, before returning in the club's Round 21 win over Collingwood. For the third straight season Edwards played in a losing elimination final with the club. He was this time the subject of some controversy when no free kick was paid for his tackle on North Melbourne's Ben Cunnington deep in the Richmond forward line late in the match's fourth quarter. Coach Damien Hardwick called the non-decision "diabolical" while AFL umpiring boss Hayden Kennedy later admitted the call was incorrect and should have been rewarded with a free kick on goal.
In addition to signing a fresh contract extension, Edwards' 2015-16 off season saw him added to the club's five-man leadership group. In the pre-season Edwards was moved to a more permanent forward role, a switch endorsed by Network Seven commentator and Richmond club legend Matthew Richardson. Edwards suffered a bruised collarbone in the final pre-season match of the year and faced a reduced training load in the lead up to Round 1. Though he did indeed play Round 1, he suffered another injury during the match, this time in the form of a fractured hand. Despite needing surgery to repair it, Edwards would miss only one match as a result of the injury. In Round 6 Edwards recorded a career high 10 clearances in Richmond's loss to Port Adelaide . He kicked three goals in Round 12 against Gold Coast, his first such haul since Round 23, 2012. Edwards suffered a calf injury at training in late July and would miss two games as a result. At season's end Edwards held averages of 18.7 disposals and 0.8 goals per game. He placed equal 12th in the club's best and fairest count.
Edwards entered 2017 as Richmond's longest tenured player following the off-season departure of Brett Deledio to Greater Western Sydney. Despite this he was removed from the club leadership group when it was reduced down from five players to three. He would play in the first two matches of the season before a hip injury sustained in the late stages of Round 2 held him out from football the following week. After five weeks of rehab he returned to play Fremantle in Round 8. During Round 10's Dreamtime at the 'G clash with Essendon, Edwards swapped his number 10 guernsey for the number 67. In doing so he became one of a handful of players across the league that round to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1967 referendum which, among other things, changed the constitution to recognise Indigenous Australians as members of the population. Through the mid-season bye he had played six matches and held averages of 17.3 disposals, 0.8 goals and 2.8 tackles per game. He did not miss a match from that point until the end of the season, including playing in his 200th career match in round 19 against the Gold Coast Suns. He thus became the 27th person to play 200 games at Richmond and the first indigenous player to do so. When September came, Edwards kicked a goal, had 24 disposals and set a personal season best tally with six marks in his side's qualifying final win over Geelong. He performed strongly in the following preliminary final too, winning 10 contested possessions and playing a key link-up role in the win over the GWS Giants. In the Grand Final Edwards turned in one of the best performances of his career, leading the team for clearances and inside 50s and earning two votes in the best afield voting to finish equal third behind only Bachar Houli and winner Dustin Martin. Edwards finished the match with 13 contested possessions and a total 25 disposals, including eight in the crucial second quarter alone. Richmond would ultimately win out over minor premiers Adelaide by 48 points and make Edwards a premiership player in his 11th season and 207th AFL match.
Edwards is contracted to Richmond until at least the end of the 2019 season.
- Statistics are correct to the end of the 2017 season
|Totals||Averages (per game)|
His father Greg Edwards was a talented footballer with Central Districts in the SANFL. He holds the club record as the first and only player to kick 100 goals in a season (1982). His career was ended at the age of 20 when an injury left him blind in his left eye. His brother Kym played with North Adelaide in the SANFL.
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