Riewoldt aims for AFL versatility

St Kilda captain Nick Riewoldt expects to stay mainly in attack, despite trying to reinvent himself as an AFL player.

One of the best key forwards of his generation has trained mainly with the Saints’ midfield group since returning after Christmas from an extended break.

The Saints legend said he has not thought about how much time he will play up forward, compared to time in the Saints’ midfield rotation.

“That’s really for the coaches to decide, what’s best for team balance,” Riewoldt said.

“A mix would be good.

“I would still think it would be the majority forward, with some time in the midfield, but that remains to be seen.”

Riewoldt said he has shed 3kg – coach Alan Richardson thinks it is more like five – as the 33-year-old aims to be more versatile.

“I guess when you pass 30, you need to try and do everything possible just to keep reinventing yourself and stay relevant in the game,” he said.

“With my knee issues over the years, making sure I keep the weight off has been a pretty high priority.”

Despite his dodgy knees, Riewoldt is renowned for his hard running and he has spent time across centre before.

But his training this pre-season has had a more deliberate focus on midfield work.

“It’s been a great learning experience, spending most of the pre-season with the midfield group,” he said.

“You see all the great teams have players who are capable of playing multiple positions and we’ve been no different, trying to go down that path.”

Riewoldt also notes that at 193cm, he is no longer especially tall for a midfielder.

Brownlow Medallist Nat Fyfe, for example, is 190cm.

“So I will probably just be another one of the dime-a-dozen midfielders,” Riewoldt said.

Another obvious imperative is to let Josh Bruce and Paddy McCartin develop as the Saints’ new key forward combination.

After the death of his younger sister Maddie last year, Riewoldt was granted an extended off-season break.

He is due to play his 300th game in round two against the Western Bulldogs and the game will be a fundraiser for the Maddie’s Vision charity.

Riewoldt missed the trip to Mackay last weekend because of illness, but should have his first game of the pre-season this Sunday against Melbourne.

The skipper said the Saints were in good shape, despite heavy rain forcing the cancellation of the Mackay game against Brisbane.

“The boys got in a really good session on Sunday,” he said.

“They did close to 12km of running on a really waterlogged surface, which was really taxing.

“So our preparation hasn’t been compromised.”

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