Higgins' AFL return is a win for Richmond

Shayne Hope
Australian Associated Press
Jack Higgins made an emotional return to AFL action in Richmond's draw with Collingwood
Jack Higgins made an emotional return to AFL action in Richmond's draw with Collingwood

In a dour AFL season re-opener where highlights were few and far between, Jack Higgins provided the feel-good story fans were crying out for.

There were fears the 21-year-old might never fully recover - let alone play football at the highest level again - after he underwent multiple brain surgeries last year.

But his triumphant return to the MCG against Collingwood on Thursday night was almost a fairytale comeback.

Higgins kicked a third-quarter goal, sparking wild celebrations from his teammates, and nearly capped a lively 13-disposal performance with what could have been a match-winning second major.

It wasn't quite to be as he pushed his set shot wide in the final term, but Higgins' return nevertheless put a smile on Richmond players' faces as they dealt with the hollow feeling of a draw.

"He's a really vibrant character and he's fought through an incredible battle personally," Tigers defender David Astbury said

"We really endorsed and supported him as best we can and he's really important for us.

"He had some really key moments tonight, so it was really good to have him back."

Higgins was involved in both score reviews on the night, the first after he dropped a mark in the goal square going back with the flight of a Dustin Martin shot.

That was ruled a behind after it touched a defender on the way through, but Higgins bobbed up again when he was paid a mark on the behind line and snapped truly to get the Tigers back within two points before the final change.

"I thought (his performance) was great," Richmond coach Damien Hardwick said.

"He looked lively up forward and finished with one goal and possibly could've kicked another if he had've taken that mark in the goal square.

"He's a player that we just like have in the side because he makes things happen.

"He hasn't played a lot of footy over the last six to eight months, so it's going to take a little bit of time but he's only going to get better for the run."

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