Saints' Riewoldt wants focus on-field - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Saints' Riewoldt wants focus on-field

Sam Lienert 17/03/2011 06:17:19 PM Comments (0)

St Kilda captain Nick Riewoldt is desperate to turn the focus to the start of the AFL competition after a drama-filled off-season.

The Saints have been in the news for everything but football in recent months - the nude photos scandal, suspending four players for misbehaving on a New Zealand training camp and defender Sam Fisher being king-hit in a nightclub.

The focus was again off-field when Riewoldt was bombarded with questions about his manager Ricky Nixon at Thursday's AFL captains media event, which occurred while Nixon's future as an agent was being weighed up elsewhere.

But Riewoldt batted away all questions about non-football issues and said the Saints' players were entirely fixated on their blockbuster MCG clash with Geelong, on March 25.

"Our focus turns pretty quickly to footy and preparing," Riewoldt said of the various distractions.

"I spoke to Lingy (Geelong captain Cameron Ling) earlier and Geelong are raring and ready to go, a new coach, a new playing group and a new era for them as well.

"We're in a similar position, we've got a healthy respect and rivalry with them.

"So that's what our focus is on at the moment. We don't dwell on those incidents for much longer than a second."

The Saints will be missing big men Michael Gardiner and almost certainly Justin Koschitzke through injury for the Cats clash, along with suspended small forward Adam Schneider.

But Riewoldt said young ruckman Ben McEvoy had shown he was ready to stand up in the absence of his fellow Saints talls.

He said the Saints, who had the best defensive record in the AFL last season, had scoring more as their main focus this year.

But he said that would be made harder by what he sensed would be a competition-wide increased emphasis on defence, as other clubs tried to mirror reigning premiers Collingwood and the Saints.

Riewoldt said the season loomed as St Kilda's biggest mental challenge in his time at the club, as they tried to rebound from near-misses in grand finals in the past two seasons.

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