West Coast coach Adam Simpson has described Nick Riewoldt as one of the game’s all-time greats, but says stopping the star St Kilda forward will be just one of his headaches this Sunday.
Riewoldt has turned back the clock this season, averaging 20 possessions and 11 marks a game to go with his 18 goals.
The 33-year-old has now clocked up 305 games, and the Saints skipper is keen to go around again next season.
Although St Kilda sit in 13th spot with a 2-5 record, they have been one of the competition’s most improved sides this year, almost knocking off flag fancies Hawthorn and North Melbourne.
Riewoldt’s hot form has played a key role in St Kilda’s revival, with the 193cm spearhead using his famed athletic capacity to spend significant periods roaming further up the ground.
Simpson says it won’t just be up to one player to stop Riewoldt during Sunday’s clash at Domain Stadium, and that the Saints also possess a number of other match-winners who require focus.
“He’s a champion of the game. He’ll go down as one of the game’s greats,” Simpson said of Riewoldt.
“He’s an A-grade player and I’m sure teams have put some time into him over the last 15 years and haven’t been able to stop him.
“He’s an important player, but they’ve got a lot of really good kids coming through, and a lot of confidence as well, so we won’t be putting all of our efforts into Riewoldt. It will be their whole side.”
St Kilda haven’t won at Domain Stadium since 2011.
Their last visit to Perth was particularly brutal – a 95-point loss to West Coast in a game where St Kilda scored just four goals.
But Simpson knows the Saints will pose a much tougher challenge this time around.
“If you look at their form line rather than their wins and losses, you’ll see they’ve been ultra competitive against top sides, away from home as well,” Simpson said.
“Hawthorn down in Tassie – they were very unfortunate not to win that game. And same on the weekend as well (against the Kangaroos), so we’re fully aware of what they’re like at their best.”
Prized West Coast recruit Lewis Jetta has been dropped from Sunday’s game following his lean run of form, while the Saints lost veteran Sam Fisher to soreness.