Nick Riewoldt’s dodgy calf muscle is giving St Kilda team-mate Paddy McCartin an extended taste of the AFL.
While coach Alan Richardson has again admitted McCartin is probably not quite ready, he will play in the Wellington Anzac Day match against Carlton.
McCartin was a late-minute inclusion for last Friday night’s game against Collingwood when Riewoldt did not recover in time from his calf problem.
There is little doubt that if Riewoldt was fit, McCartin would be back in the VFL.
While Richardson said post-match last week that McCartin was perhaps not quite ready for his AFL debut, last year’s No.1 draft pick improved in the latter stages of the match.
Richardson hopes McCartin can carry his form at the end of that game into Saturday’s Anzac Day clash, which Riewoldt will again miss because of injury.
“We’ll mix things up a little bit and Paddy will play again – he’ll be better for the run,” Richardson said.
“I was reported as saying in an ideal world, he wasn’t quite ready and that’s still the case.
“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”
Richardson added that McCartin did not appear overawed by his AFL debut..
“What we need to do as coaches is make sure there’s real clarity around what’s expected of someone who plays key forward,” Richardson said.
“He wasn’t out-marked at all, he gave (a) really good contest.
“He appears to be in a really good head space – I’m excited for him.”
Chris Judd has joined Riewoldt as a high-profile absentee from the Wellington game, with the Carlton star nursing a tight back and not flying to New Zealand.