Gehrig could return against Richmond - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Gehrig could return against Richmond

By Sam Lienert 30/04/2008 06:17:31 AM Comments (0)

Fraser Gehrig's superb record against Richmond has him in contention for an AFL recall, despite St Kilda coach Ross Lyon admitting hand problems and the changing game were making it hard for him to continue.

Gehrig was left out for the Saints' past two games, after their three-tall forward structure, also including Nick Riewoldt and Justin Koschitzke, failed to fire in earlier rounds.

Lyon said Gehrig was also struggling with arthritis-type hand problems, making it difficult for him to pick up the ball from the ground.

But the coach said he was still tempted to play Gehrig at Telstra Dome on Saturday night, given his past capacity to rip the Richmond defence apart.

Gehrig has kicked a total of 34 goals in seven games against Richmond over the past four seasons, including two hauls of five last year.

"He's got a very good record against Richmond, so he'll come under strong consideration," Lyon said.

The decision partly hinges on the Saints' ruck options, with Michael Gardiner a chance to return from a calf injury, while Steven King (hamstring) remains unavailable.

Lyon was unimpressed with the performance of Michael Rix against star Port Adelaide pair Brendon Lade and Dean Brogan last weekend.

"Do we go with Rix again? We thought he probably wasn't at his best against Port Power," Lyon said.

"Their set pieces from the stoppages, they got about four or five goals, so that's just the brutal reality of AFL footy, that you've got to pick your most talented ruckmen."

The queries over Gardiner and Rix increase the likelihood of Koschitzke spending more time in the ruck, strengthening the case for Gehrig, given Lyon's reluctance to field the three-tall attack.

"It has got more difficult (to include Gehrig) the way the game's gone, it's got quicker ... the backs run so hard and forward pressure's such a key element of success," he said.

"Compounded by if you look at our forward structure, Riewoldt and Koschitzke are really tall men ... it's getting harder and harder to carry three."

Lyon said Gehrig, who retired at the end of last season, then changed his mind, had admitted that the game had changed to his detriment, with zone defences making long kicks to big forwards almost a thing of the past.

"Fraser talks about the changes and why it's difficult for him to go on," he said.

"He said 'in 2004 I used to stand at full-forward, Nick Riewoldt used to lead up just outside 50, turn around and kick it to me one-on-one.

"He said 'That hasn't been the case for a few years now, I wish it was but it's not.'"

Lyon also suggested that Gehrig might have underestimated his hand problems during his short-lived retirement.

"His hands are very arthritic and sore and affecting his ball-handling," he said.

"That's something he's working through and probably in the off-season in the warmth they feel good ... once you start playing games again, they become more acute, those issues."

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