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Saint Riewoldt, the philosophical midfielder

Football

A slimmer Nick Riewoldt will aim to defy AFL convention and spend more time this season in St Kilda’s midfield.

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Most 33-year-old onballers look to rest their battered legs with greater time in front of goals.

But the Saints’ captain, one of the best key forwards in his generation, is headed the other way.

Riewoldt is among several tall forwards who noticeably have shed weight ahead of this season, thanks to the AFL’s new restrictions on interchange rotations.

Coach Alan Richardson said Riewoldt had shed 5kg over summer.

While Riewoldt is a renowned runner who is no stranger to midfield work, the Saints will try to use him more up the ground.

Philosophically, we want to play him a bit more in the midfield

Riewoldt is among several experienced St Kilda players who could return for Sunday’s pre-season game against Brisbane in Mackay.

“His running is incredibly strong at the minute,” Richardson said.

“The plan is for him to do a bit of both – we still need him as a forward.

“He’s a pretty impressive player in front of the ball, important to us… but we think he can help us in both those parts of the game.”

Richardson said Riewoldt’s role would depend not only on the game situation, but which teammates were playing.

For example, fellow key forward Paddy McCartin will miss the Mackay game because of a hamstring injury.

That might restrict Riewoldt more to a role inside their forward 50 against the Lions.

“Philosophically, we want to play him a bit more in the midfield,” Richardson said.

-AAP

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