St Kilda has found its answer to Paddy Ryder’s injury concerns with SANFL star Jack Hayes impressing alongside Rowan Marshall, but the veteran may be back sooner than expected.
Speaking after the Saints’ Saturday night pre-season clash with the Bombers, coach Brett Ratten noted Ryder’s progression through his achilles soreness had been ahead of schedule.
“Paddy’s going to be pretty close. He’s building up to be really close, he’s probably ahead of where we thought he would be but every session is going to be critical leading up to Round 1.
“He can’t have a hiccup or we won’t consider him but he’s doing everything right.”Embed from Getty Images
The ruck tandem of Ryder and Rowan Marshall was a big reason to St Kilda’s success in 2020 when it made a semi-final appearance. Both have the ability to hit the scoreboard up forward, and offer different skillsets through the middle of the ground.
Ryder remains one of the best tap ruckmen in the competition at 33 years of age. He has soft hands and a springy leap that gives his midfielders a 360-degree scope to receive the ball on the run.
Marshall on the other hand is a physical behemoth in the centre square, and is able to get on the outside of stoppages to push forward hard. He had an enthralling battle with emerging Dons fan favourite Sam Draper, who had four shots on goal for the game.
If Ryder can’t get up for for the season start, SANFL star and recent supplemental selection period signing Jack Hayes looks primed for a Round 1 debut.
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The Woodville-West Torrens star kicked a goal and was influential in centre bounces despite giving up 10 centimetres to Peter Wright. Once the ball hit the ground his follow-up work was superb, becoming another midfielder to complement the likes of Jack Steele.Embed from Getty Images
Hayes also contributed a goal up forward and his work-rate was elite up and down the wings of Docklands all night.
“His first half was really good, the way he competed,” Ratten said.
“First taste of AFL, it was a quick game getting adjusted to it at Marvel, but he didn’t do his chances of Round 1 any harm.”
The biggest injury blow from the night was Hunter Clark’s right shoulder in a heavy collision with Darcy Parish, while Jack Billings will have scans on his hamstring to assess the extent of his injury.
“Clark will be probably six weeks with an AC shoulder. He might require some surgery – scans will reveal that – but he will be out for at least a month.”
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