St Kilda expect star Carlton midfielder Chris Judd will play in the Wellington AFL Anzac Day match.
But just the rumour of Judd’s withdrawal from the game was enough to make Saints coach Alan Richardson smile.
The Carlton star is said to be in doubt for Saturday’s match against St Kilda because of a back problem.
“I heard something on the radio on the way here and put a little bit of a smile on my face,” Richardson said in Melbourne on Thursday morning before the flight to Wellington.
“That would be a good outcome … he’s been in pretty good nick.
“They’ve been great around stoppages and he’s been part of the reason.
“We’d take that if that was happening.”
Carlton were flying to Wellington later on Thursday.
St Kilda confirmed they will still be without captain Nick Riewoldt and midfielder Leigh Montagna this weekend as the veteran pair recover from injury.
Riewoldt was a late withdrawal from last Friday night’s loss to Collingwood with a calf muscle injury.
Richardson said it is unclear when Riewoldt would return.
“We certainly won’t take any risk – we want to make sure he’s really strong for us for as much of the season as (he) can,” the coach said.
Last year’s No.1 draft pick Paddy McCartin was a last-minute addition to the team for the Collingwood game when Riewoldt pulled out.
“There’s no doubt we struggled in terms of connecting the back to the front half on the weekend without ‘Rooy’,” Richardson said.
“For so long, the backs have come out and he’s been the man who’s presented.
“The numbers against us in terms of entries reflected that.
“We’ll mix things up a little bit and Paddy will play again – he’ll be better for the run.”
While McCartin had minimal impact in his AFL debut, Richardson is confident the young key forward will improve.
“I was reported as saying in an ideal world, he wasn’t quite ready and that’s still the case,” he said.
“But the reality is, we need him and we think he’s the next best of our key forwards.
“We think he did some pretty good stuff late in the game – we hope he builds on the way he finished off.”
After an upset win over Gold Coast, St Kilda had a bad loss to Collingwood and Richardson said his team’s work at the stoppages had let them down.
“Whether it was the boys were a little bit tired, whether it was when the rain set in, the bigger bodies and the experience of Swan and Pendlebury, we got smashed in the middle,” Richardson said.
“That presents an enormous challenge – Carlton have been really positive with stoppages, I think they were plus-23 against the Bombers.
“We just have to make sure we’re much stronger in there.
“That was really the difference between the two performances.”