ST KILDA coach Brett Ratten has defended the behaviour of star duo Paddy Ryder and Bradley Hill after they were involved in an off-field incident and expects them both to be available to face Carlton on Friday night.
The pair were involved in a verbal exchange with patrons at a Mordialloc venue the night after the Saints' 35-point loss to Essendon in round 14, but the incident didn't turn violent before the players left and they reported the matter to the club.
Ryder had his workload managed to deal with the ongoing Achilles troubles that delayed his start to the season and have troubled him in the past, while Hill was ruled out after missing training on Monday and Tuesday due to a personal problem.
Both are expected to train on Tuesday afternoon and Thursday morning ahead of St Kilda's crucial game against the Blues at Marvel Stadium.
Ratten expressed his frustration at the reporting of the incident and refuted any link between the pair missing the trip to Sydney and the incident.
"The boys went to a hotel, had a few beers, a few words were said, and they left. That's what happened," Ratten told reporters at RSEA Park on Tuesday.
"It does make me think there's not much out there to take a story of somebody said something, people left and next minute we've got these players and we're putting them in hot water over violence. It is so far from the truth.
"I feel for Paddy and I feel for Hilly to have to actually put up with it. We're jumping at shadows and hearsay without actually getting the evidence. We need to make sure we put this out because it's not good for people.
"Bradley had personal issues that he has to deal with and we need to respect that. It is all personal reasons and I'm not going to share them with anybody. That's for Brad and he's working through that.
"Paddy Ryder was managed because he is 34 years of age and he might have to get managed before the end of the year to get through with his Achilles and it was in our plans.
"It is actually disappointing that it has been inflamed. All you can say really is we support the players. We know what happened and move on."
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Ratten said the players didn't break any team rules and should be permitted to drink during an eight-day break.
"The players work so hard and the opportunity to enjoy themselves at times is critical. We need the balance of life. Like anything, there needs to be a balance on how much they drink as well and things like that but an eight-day turnaround, when can you get a better opportunity to go out?" he said.
St Kilda arrived at the midway point of the season as one of the most impressive sides in the competition at 8-3 but has been in freefall since the mid-season bye, dropping three consecutive games to drift to 10th.
Saints president Andrew Bassat indicated at the start of June the club was close to announcing a contract extension for Ratten, who returned the club to the finals for the first time in nine years in 2020 before a disappointing campaign last year.
Ratten is yet to put pen to paper on a new deal but said he expects those conversations to progress in the coming period with Bassat, CEO Matt Finnis, head of football David Rath and chief operating officer Simon Lethlean.
"We are going to just stick to the process and what we're doing behind the scenes. We'll just keep having those chats and keep working forward," he said.
"We speak regularly, whether it's at the club or on the phone, same with Andrew. David Rath, we chat all the time. I go for a walk with Matt for 45 minutes every two weeks and we just chat about all things. The communication is there, we're just working through some things."
St Kilda has a difficult road to September with Fremantle and the Western Bulldogs to follow the Blues – all three are at Marvel Stadium – before a trip to the west to face an improved West Coast outfit.