ST KILDA veteran Paddy Ryder won't make the trip to Western Australia to play Fremantle this weekend, but will return via the VFL instead.
The Saints were considering recalling the 34-year-old straight back into Brett Ratten's team but have opted to take the more conservative route, providing Ryder with a run in Sandringham's first round clash against the Casey Demons on Sunday.
Ryder has been hampered by Achilles issues at different stages of his career and didn’t play after round 19 last season due to the problem, managing only 12 appearances in 2021.
The All-Australian didn’t complete much match simulation or any of the practice matches over the pre-season, with St Kilda trying to squeeze out as much meaningful football as possible in 2022, after he only managed 12 appearances last season.
Ryder completed a light session on Tuesday and will train with the group on Thursday ahead of his first game of the year at Casey Fields on Sunday.
Pre-season supplemental selection period signing Jack Hayes grasped his opportunity in the absence of the former Essendon and Port Adelaide ruckman last Friday night, producing one of the most memorable debuts on a weekend stacked full of brilliant first games.
With Ryder unavailable for round one, Brett Ratten turned to the 26-year-old concreter from South Australia – who the club had only just signed a fortnight earlier – to partner Rowan Marshall against Collingwood under the bright lights of Friday night football at Marvel Stadium.
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Hayes delivered a performance that left many recruiters second guessing themselves and one that will cause the match committee at Moorabbin some grief this season.
But it won't this weekend with Hayes set to make the trip across the country to play the Dockers at Optus Stadium, after slotting three goals from 18 disposals and ten marks on debut.
The Saints hope Ryder will be available for the clash against Richmond at Marvel Stadium seven days later, but his availability will depend on how his Achilles recovers due to the nature of the injury.
The Saints hope the former Essendon and Port Adelaide ruckman will be available for the clash against Richmond at Marvel Stadium seven days later, but his availability will depend on how his Achilles recovers due to the nature of the injury.
Former skipper Jarryn Geary played his first game at any level since undergoing a shoulder reconstruction, banking 85 minutes in a VFL practice match against Collingwood on Friday afternoon and is expected to back up again for Sandringham.
St Kilda had hoped to expose injury-plagued midfielder Dan Hannebery to some minutes in the opening round of the VFL, but has decided to hold back the three-time All-Australian for at least one more week.
Young midfielder Jack Bytel won't play at any level in the short term with the Saints choosing to put the 22-year-old through a conditioning block at RSEA Park, following an interrupted pre-season.
Jack Billings remains at least a fortnight away – potentially closer to a month – after he suffered a hamstring strain during the AAMI Community Series.