Riewoldt relishing NZ AFL initiative

St Kilda’s ground-breaking AFL Anzac Day match against Sydney in Wellington will provide double the motivation for captain Nick Riewoldt and his team-mates.

Apart from the symbolism of the date, it will also be the first AFL match for premiership points outside Australia and Riewoldt said that would be extremely important to the players.The April 25 clash at Wellington’s Westpac Stadium is the first of five in three years at the ground, with St Kilda hosting the matches.

At a function in Wellington on Friday to formally launch the initiative, Riewoldt said playing the Anzac Day match was a huge honour.

“To have the opportunity to play, to represent the Anzac spirit, is just so exciting,” he said.

“At the end of the day it’s for four points – our objective is going to be to come over and play well and put on a show, but we’re here to win and collect premiership points.”It’s the first game … for premiership points outside Australia and I don’t think you can undersell that and how big a moment it is for the competition.”

St Kilda Capitan Nick Riewolt
St Kilda Capitan Nick Riewolt

Beaten grand finalists in 2009 and `10, St Kilda finished just outside the top eight this season.

Riewoldt said the club was in an exciting position, despite the disappointment of missing out on the finals.

“The future bodes well for us – we’ve got a really exciting young list, coupled with some pretty seasoned and experienced veterans,” he said.

“Next year’s looking really positive – we’ve got a great new coach and I think we’re on the up.”

He is confident Saints star midfielder Lenny Hayes, still recovering at home after corrective heart surgery last week, will again play an important part in St Kilda’s campaign next season.

“Lenny’s one of our all-time great players – he’s been a terrific player for us for a long time,” he said.

“He’s had a bit of heart surgery, but he’s recovering really well and he’ll be running out here next year, playing in front of all the Wellington people, and he’ll put on a pretty good show.”

Cathy Walshe, 14/09/2012This article was originally featured here