After his part in Wests Tigers’ grand final triumph, Pat Richards is back to haunt the Cowboys
Paul Malone •
The Courier-Mail •
April 10, 201412:00AM
ALMOST a decade after he torched the Cowboys with one of the NRL’s most memorable tries, Pat Richards is back at the head of the pack.
Richards will forever be remembered as the man on the end of the amazing Benji Marshall reverse pass as Wests Tigers outgunned the Cowboys in the 2005 grand final.
After three years with Parramatta and two with the Tigers, Richards was just 23 when he headed north to chase the riches with English powerhouse Wigan.
Now the 32-year-old winger is back where it all began and going into Saturday’s clash with the Cowboys at Campbelltown, Richards’s 62 points make him the season’s leading scorer — 12 ahead of Canterbury’s Trent Hodkinson
The veteran winger sees some similarities between this Tigers side and the 2005 premiership outfit coached by Tim Sheens.
The Tigers, directed by playmaking veterans Robbie Farah, Braith Anasta and rookie halfback Luke Brooks, have had big wins over the Titans and Sea Eagles balanced by sizeable losses to the Dragons and Warriors.
“In 2005, we had some younger players and experienced older players and we were a bit inconsistent early in that season, too,’’ Richards said.
“We have to work hard to be as consistent as we can and get as many early wins as we can.
“We are confident we can play and it’s pleasing we have had some 80-minute performances,” he said.
“It was good I could come back to a club I had been to before. I am enjoying playing with these talented young kids.
“I went to England for two years and spent eight there. I have no regrets at all about my time over there.’’
Marshall’s flick pass to Richards in the 2005 grand final gave both men an indelible role in rugby league history.
“It’s one of those that keeps getting better, every time they replay it,” Richards said.
“I was proud to be part of that moment.’’
Richards played in two premiership-winning sides with Wigan and also was awarded the premier individual honour in England, the Man of Steel.
“I was 31 when I was off contract and if I didn’t take the opportunity to come back to Australia, it probably wouldn’t have happened again,’’ he said.
“I feel like I went over as a kid and came back as a man.
“I have some friends for life. Not many people could say they lived in another country for eight years and I was able to travel. We were pretty successful.’’
Richards, his wife Kim and children Aidan and Briana live in Camden, close to the family support they did not have in Wigan.
There are four 34-year-olds going around in the NRL this week — Eel Fuifui Moimoi, Titan Luke Bailey, Rabbitoh Lote Tuqiri and Shark Eric Grothe. Richards may outlast them all. He has a second year on his contract in 2015 to look forward to.
I was happy to hear Pat was signed for this year, but really only for emotional reasons given he was so good in 2005 and I always thought it a great shame he left us that year.
Now I am wrapped that he has come back to us, he is so valuable with his kicks and his attack. I am loving having him back.