Riewoldt to make comeback against Lions - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Riewoldt to make comeback against Lions

By Jim Morton 24/05/2008 02:39:50 PM Comments (0)

St Kilda skipper Nick Riewoldt has flown to Brisbane and is expected to make a stunning AFL return from injury at the Gabba on Sunday.

The Saints confirmed the blond star forward was set to test his injured knee against the Lions unheralded but hard-nosed defensive line.

Riewoldt's surprise return comes after he strained medial ligaments in his left knee against Richmond three weeks ago.

The centre half-forward last week pencilled in next Sunday's round 10 clash against Melbourne as a likely return date but the under-pressure club has rushed the comeback.

While his appearance would be a major confidence boost for the Saints, the Lions are less than convinced by Riewoldt's fitness.

Brisbane defence coach Justin Leppitsch doubted whether the Gold Coast product would be near peak shape.

"When you're not fit it's always a surprise when someone is included but it's just whether he is," said Leppitsch.

"The only footage we've seen he's not running freely so who knows what's happened. It seems we don't know his injury as well as St Kilda does, that's for sure."

The eighth-placed Lions - whose 4-4 record is identical to St Kilda's - have prepared both for whether Riewoldt plays in a two-prong forward line with Justin Koschitzke or not.

They also view goalsneak Stephen Milne, who terrorised them with 11 goals in 2005, as potentially the biggest danger.

But Leppitsch backed his improving defenders to do the job on a Saints outfit which had thumped the Lions by an average 76 points in three matches before last season's 52-point upset at the Gabba.

"We've got a defence of no-names who are starting to get names about them," said the 2001-2003 triple premiership defender.

"Obviously our defence from the premiership years - which I was a part of - have all retired or left."

The changing era has seen Daniel Merrett replace Mal Michael as Brisbane's cornerstone and team with the five J's - Joel Patfull, 50th-gamer Joel MacDonald, Josh Drummond, Jared Brennan and Jason Roe.

"We literally had to revamp six players," Leppitsch said. "It makes it easy when you can drip feed one at a time but that defence has gone from something to nothing and building back to something again and they're showing really good signs.

"We've got really good mix of players with the defensive aspect and also the offensive part, we have a really good balance at the moment."

The Lions only injury concern Jed Adcock is set to shrug off a thigh injury as full-strength Brisbane are warm favourites to win back-to-back for the first time this season.

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