Ryder ready for Saints AFL pre-season tilt

Former Port Adelaide star Paddy Ryder will be a headline act when St Kilda unleash their string of new recruits during the AFL pre-season series this month.

PADDY RYDER.
PADDY RYDER. Picture: Michael Willson/AFL Media/Getty Images

Paddy Ryder will make his St Kilda debut during the AFL pre-season series as the Saints prepare to suit up all five new recruits from last year's boom trade period.

Ryder, Brad Hill, Zak Jones, Dougal Howard and Dan Butler will all pull on their new colours for the first time this month.

Former Essendon and Port Adelaide big man Ryder has been battling knee soreness, however, his availability for the pre-season opener against Hawthorn on February 20 means the Saints will get an early look at their new ruck combination.

The 31-year-old former All-Australian has shed about seven kilograms over summer in a bid to maintain his trademark leap and athleticism and will line up in tandem with developing tall Rowan Marshall.

The duo is being geared towards a 50-50 split on ruck duties this season and will spend time in attack alongside last year's leading goal kicker Tim Membrey.

"We think the combination is going to be a weapon for us," coach Brett Ratten told SEN on Wednesday.

"They're different ruckmen, too. It's not like you come up against one and then the other one is pretty similar.

"Paddy is a leaper and Rowan uses his body, and they're very different in the way they go about it.

"The variety and the pressure that we can put on opposition ruckmen around the footy will help our midfielders get first access to the footy."

Ryder and Hill (corked leg) will sit out of Thursday's intra-club hit-out at Moorabbin, as will Dan Hannebery.

But all three are expected to see enough pre-season action to ensure they are ready to go in round one, when the Saints take on North Melbourne at Marvel Stadium.

Injury woes meant Hannebery managed just five games last year in a disappointing first season with the Saints after a high-profile switch from Sydney.

A freak foot injury during the off-season was a setback to the midfielder's summer training program, and he will miss the Hawks clash next week as he continues to build his fitness base.

"He looks like he just needs a few games under his belt," Ratten said.

"We'll give him a good run at it and hopefully he's right to go for round one."

Ratten said St Kilda had 39 of a possible 45 players available to play in the intra-club game in a positive sign ahead of the season proper.


AAP