Riewoldt and Gilbert to miss Cup opener - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Riewoldt and Gilbert to miss Cup opener

By Roger Vaughan 08/02/2011 05:53:22 PM Comments (0)

St Kilda captain Nick Riewoldt and Sam Gilbert must wait an extra week to put their horror AFL off-seasons behind them and return to playing.

Riewoldt and Gilbert, who were caught in the middle of the Saints' nude photo scandal, will join fellow tall players Michael Gardiner and Justin Koschitzke as bystanders for round one of the NAB Cup.

The Saints will go into the February 18 Cup opener at Etihad Stadium against Essendon and Brisbane without having played an intraclub match.

Lyon said Riewoldt was a week off being ready to play, while Gilbert had suffered a minor hamstring injury.

Koschitzke (ankle) and Gardiner (knee) are recovering from off-season surgery, while Zac Dawson, Rhys Stanley, Jack Steven and Paul Cahill are serving six-week suspensions after the pre-season trip to New Zealand.

"They're just a little bit behind - I'm not surprising them, but informing them publicly, I hope their response is okay," a grinning Lyon said of Riewoldt and Gilbert.

"They're a little bit behind, obviously, clearly Nick, and Sammy Gilbert just had some tightness of the hamstring last week, so he's probably a week behind where we need him to be.

"Clearly he's critical for us."

Apart from being caught in the drawn-out photo saga, Riewoldt was also forced to apologise this week for another off-field incident.

A woman went on Melbourne radio to say Riewoldt swore at her for taking a photo of Saints players the day after they lost last year's grand final.

Riewoldt and chief executive Michael Nettlefold were absentees from the launch on Tuesday of the club's community camp in Frankston.

Vice-captain Lenny Hayes stepped in for Riewoldt.

After weeks of negative publicity, the Saints changed the launch from a media conference to a photo opportunity, although Lyon spoke to journalists on football matters.

Lyon said Stanley's suspension had cost him a chance to stake a claim as their No.2 ruckman behind Ben McEvoy.

"Obviously Rhys has passed up a wonderful opportunity with Gardiner and Koschitzke being out through injury," Lyon said.

The coach said McEvoy's pre-season had been "exceptional", while newcomers Sam Crocker and Jamie Cripps had also impressed.

Lyon said the club was also keen to give younger players such as Tom Lynch, Alistair Smith, Irishman Tommy Walsh and Nick Winmar more game time in the pre-season.

"Really, we won't have played a practice game, it will be our first hitout, so we're certainly not expecting miracles," Lyon said.

"But our motto is 'anywhere, any time, any opposition, give it our best effort'."

Lyon said it was yet to be seen whether the Saints' premiership "window" remained open, but added there was no shortage of hunger.

"Is 'scars' too strong a term? Certainly there's some emotional fallout and there needs to be regathering and healing, but we're professionals and we're really keen," Lyon said.

"We haven't climbed the mountain yet, we haven't saluted and we'll be best endeavours (sic) to make that happen.

"The reality is, we still have a relatively young core group, only a couple of players over 30 and it's relatively healthy and keen.

"(We have) a game plan that certainly needs to be tweaked a little bit, find a bit more balance with attack - let's see."

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