EMBRACE the hype – and thrive on it.
That's the message from St Kilda great Nick Riewoldt to the new Saints' No.12, Max King.
It's been a big summer for the 19-year-old, with the key forward finally getting his body right after the end of his knee rehab and a fresh ankle injury wrecked last year.
The hype surrounding the talented goalkicker's chances of a round one debut flared after he kicked four goals in an intraclub match last month.
But, instead of instructing the former No.4 draft pick to ignore the outside noise, Riewoldt – who isn't a stranger to high external expectations, having gone through it as a promising youngster himself – said King should use it as motivation.
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"I think [my advice] is not to shy away from it," Riewoldt said on Tuesday, at the launch of the fifth Maddie's Match to raise money to fight bone marrow failure syndromes.
"Use the expectations to drive you in your preparation, in your commitment to get the best out of yourself every day.
"He hasn't played a senior game yet but I think we're all really excited about the raw athleticism we see on display.
"As a young player that played a similar position, albeit three inches shorter, I think we just need to temper those expectations a little bit.
"There's no denying he's an exciting talent and we all hope he goes really well and gets some continuity."
It's unlikely those expectations will lessen, especially if, as expected, King plays in the Saints' season opener against North Melbourne on March 22.
But Riewoldt said he believed King was not only physically ready and would build resilience by playing plenty of AFL games, but he would cope with the mental side too.
"From the conversations I've had with Max and from what I've witnessed, he's a very driven individual so I think he's going to be able to handle those expectations," he said.
"You're not out there by yourself, you're part of a football club and you've got a great support network around you to bring you into games and assist you and support you during the week.
"He's in a great spot to perform."
Riewoldt has been an interested onlooker at Moorabbin this summer as the Saints have hosted intraclubs and a Marsh Community Series match against Hawthorn two weeks ago.
While he said it was "too simplistic" to declare the Saints' season as being a failure if they didn't make the finals, he admitted he was "really bullish" about their prospects in 2020.
"In my role as a footy analyst, I look really closely at all teams and I just think the acquisitions the club has been able to make over the summer, you can see that on display," he said.
"There's also 'new' recruits like Dylan Roberton, Dan Hannebery and Jarryn Geary who didn't play a lot of footy last year.
"So, I think all St Kilda supporters should be really excited about the season."
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Maddie's Match will take place in round three when the Saints play Richmond at Marvel Stadium.
Accompanying this year's fundraiser is the Ride for Maddie, which is a bike ride on match day from Moorabbin to Marvel, led by Riewoldt in memory of his late sister.
"We're keen to get as many people on board to sign up for the bike ride," Riewoldt said.
"To be able to start here [at Moorabbin] and finish at the stadium, it's going to carry some significant weight.
"We've got to get there on time because we are delivering the game ball so we have to get there before kick off or we might have an issue."