St Kilda skipper Nick Riewoldt will be doing everything in his power to get his body right for Sunday’s match against Richmond.
Riewoldt has long been regarded as one of the game’s consummate professionals when it comes to preparation and has never needed motivation to do the extras that allow him to run out for the Saints each weekend. But the fact Sunday’s game is dedicated to his late sister Maddie, who passed away earlier this season after a lengthy battle with aplastic anaemia, means this is a match he’ll be desperate not to miss.
The 32-year-old is encouraging all footy supporters to get down to Etihad Stadium to support Maddie’s Match.
“Not just Richmond and St Kilda supporters, but anyone who’s a footy person or feels like supporting the cause, that’d be terrific [if they came along],” Riewoldt told Nine News on Saturday.
“I certainly intend to play for as long as my body allows me. I’ve been there in really good times, playing finals footy so I want to be there and taste that again.” – Nick Riewoldt
His wife, Catherine, is also hoping to see him take on the Tigers – though she admits his 2015 has been hard to watch.
Riewoldt suffered whiplash in the Saints’ season-opener before sustaining a calf injury in Round 2 – one that saw him miss three games. In his second week back, he was knocked out in a head-clash with Adelaide’s Brodie Smith.
“It’s not fun watching him get concussed or beat up out there, but I love seeing him happy and footy makes him happy,” Catherine said.
And though the body is battered, Riewoldt’s love of the game drives him to keep going.
“I certainly intend to play for as long as my body allows me. I’ve been there in really good times, playing finals footy so I want to be there and taste that again.”
2015 has been an incredibly difficult year for the Riewoldt family, but there’s also been some happiness – most notably, the birth of Nick and Catherine’s first child, James.
“James is a great baby,” Riewoldt said.
“I’m not sure if that means he’s going to be a terrible two-year-old, but at the moment he’s wonderful. He’s a real blessing for the family.”