Saints benefit from AFL cancellation

St Kilda coach Alan Richardson sees last weekend’s abandoned AFL pre-season match as a blessing in disguise.

The game in Mackay against Brisbane was called off because of torrential rain.

As Richmond deal with their horrific injury count after Thursday night’s NAB Challenge match, the Saints have the opposite problem of not having played enough football.

Their last pre-season match is against in-form Melbourne on Sunday at Etihad Stadium.

But Richardson said the washup from last weekend had been better than expected.

He said the players pushed themselves hard at a running session in heavy conditions before leaving Mackay.

“It might sound surprising, but we had to recover from that session,” he said.

“We’ve liked the week, given we couldn’t control what happened with respect to the game.

“After that, the things we have been able to control, we like what we’ve done and we think the players are in good shape.”

Richardson backed the game being abandoned, despite the disappointment for fans and players.

“There was just too high a potential for injury,” he said.

The Saints will field a strong lineup on Sunday, with experienced players such as Nick Riewoldt, David Armitage, Jarryn Geary and Leigh Montagna returning.

Riewoldt will play about 90 per cent of the game as he experiments with more time in the midfield.

Richardson was at Etihad Stadium to watch Port Adelaide, who are their round-one opponents.

He took particular note of Power recruit Charlie Dixon.

“They played some really strong footy when the big fella was there,” Richardson said.

“It changed the mix in the front half for them, so that might change personnel for us potentially.”

Veteran backman Sam Fisher is likely to get the big job on Dixon.

“Fisher is our man, really, for the deeper stuff,” said Richardson.

“He’s almost moving as well as he has in the last five years.”

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