North Melbourne’s hopes of six wins on the trot have been bolstered with in-form forward Shaun Higgins set to play against St Kilda in Hobart after overcoming a knee injury.
The 27-year old has been crucial to the Kangaroos attack all season but a flare up last round of a long-standing knee problem put his fitness for Saturday’s game under a cloud.
However Higgins arrived in Hobart on Friday and teammate Scott Thompson had good news.
“He’s expecting to play so unless he does something tonight I’d assume he is playing,” the defender told reporters.
Despite being hot favourites to win the clash at Blundstone Arena, Thompson said his side are well aware of the strong performance the Saints put up against ladder-leaders Fremantle last round during their 40-point loss.
“St Kilda played pretty well against Freo. They didn’t kick straight, but it was closer than the score said.”
The Roos also know their opponents have nothing to lose, being already out of finals contention.
“There is always that chance they just have a crack,” Thompson said of the Saints’ potential to pull a rabbit from their hat.
St Kilda captain Nick Riewoldt said his 13th-placed side will look to their young players to inject some extra aggression on Saturday.
“North are clearly playing for a lot, they’ve got a finals spot on the line, so we’re really excited about that challenge,” he said.
“We’ve got some young guys in that are trying to forge careers and they are hungry to perform.
“We need to make sure we bring a really aggressive style, that’s what we’ve been known for this year, and applying great pressure, so if we do that consistently we’ll be right in the game.”
On a personal note, Hobart-born Riewoldt said it was an emotional journey to the southern capital after the February death of his sister, Madeleine, from a rare blood disorder.
“I won’t lie, it has been emotional coming back … it is pretty emotional, clearly Tassie is a really special place for all of our family and even more so now,” he said.
North’s lineup on Saturday will include key defender Robbie Tarrant, who has just signed a four-year deal to stay with the club, and also see the return from suspension of Michael Firrito.
St Kilda will be without Daniel McKenzie (concussion), Shane Savage (hip), Paddy McCartin (soreness) and Jack Lonie (leg).