The AFL’s Anzac Day game in Wellington has suffered a second major blow, with Carlton star Chris Judd not making the trip.
This means the third edition of the AFL’s New Zealand experiment will be deprived of its two highest-profile drawcards, with Judd joining St Kilda captain Nick Riewoldt as injury withdrawals.
Riewoldt did not make the trip because of a calf injury and Judd also did not fly over on Thursday morning because of a stiff lower back.
The form of the two teams is also not helping promotion of the Wellington match.
Carlton are yet to win after three rounds and the pressure is growing on coach Mick Malthouse.
The Saints started the season as the popular tip for the wooden spoon.
After an encouraging upset win over Gold Coast, St Kilda suffered a big loss last Friday night against Collingwood.
The Blues said they did not want to risk Judd, given the travel and a six-day turnaround before the big round-five clash with Collingwood at the MCG.
Malthouse will coach his 715th AFL game against the Magpies, officially breaking the league record.
Judd is 31 and only managed 12 senior games last season because of hamstring and achilles tendon injuries.
“I didn’t actually know until I was on the plane,” Blues teammate Cameron Wood said.
“We were (flying) over the ocean and someone said Juddy’s not on the plane.
“Obviously, it will be a big loss.”
While Judd is out of the match, suspended Blues defender Chris Yarran has travelled with the team.
On Tuesday, the tribunal handed Yarran a three-game ban for punching Essendon’s Paul Chapman.
“That’s just a bit of being around the team and lending some support,” Wood said.
“He’s definitely still part of the team.
“He has a lot of things he can pass on … there are a few younger players in the squad.”