Riewoldt among five Saints on extensions - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Riewoldt among five Saints on extensions

By Adam Cooper 10/03/2005 06:50:12 PM Comments (0)

St Kilda captain Nick Riewoldt has joined the AFL's top earners' bracket and ensured the Saints can continue their quest for a long-awaited flag with their young superstar at the forefront.

The Saints formally announced Riewoldt had signed a contract extension until the end of 2007.

The new deal moves him into the elite group of about 20 players to earn more than $500,000 a season.

The 22-year-old forward, whose contract was to expire at the end of 2005, will lead the Saints this year under the club's rotating captaincy and is the league's hottest young property, along with West Coast dynamo Chris Judd.

Riewoldt celebrated his contract extension with four teammates who also signed to new terms: two-time All-Australian Austinn Jones, utility Steven Baker and key defenders Luke Penny and Matt Maguire.

Riewoldt's signing is a major piece in the puzzle for St Kilda's administrators, who must squeeze into the salary cap a clutch of young stars including Luke Ball, Nick Dal Santo, Justin Koschitzke and Brendon Goddard.

St Kilda coach Grant Thomas is desperate to keep his young band together, in the same way Brisbane retained the core of its 2001-03 premiership group, and Riewoldt said loyalty was more important than joining a rival for a greater pay packet.

"It's a policy for success really and players are always going to be offered more to go elsewhere," said Riewoldt, who is a dual best and fairest winner and was an All-Australian in 2004 after a season that yielded 67 goals, 256 marks and a preliminary final berth for his side.

"I think this sends a very good message, all the guys are rapt to be a part of such a wonderful team and we're committed to staying together, so it's great news for the club."

An estimated 10 other Saints were out of contract at the end of 2005 and club chief executive Jim Watts described the coming year of negotiations to retain the side's best players as an "ongoing challenge for the club".

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