St Kilda’s Nick Riewoldt will join four of the greatest names in the game’s history when he captains his 200th match in the Round 1 match against Port Adelaide.
Only Carlton’s Stephen Kernahan, Essendon’s Dick Reynolds, Footscray’s Ted Whitten and Brisbane’s Michael Voss have racked up 200 games as captain.
Riewoldt took on the role at age 22 in 2005, but handed it on for one season to Luke Ball under a rotational system put in place by then Saints coach Grant Thomas.
He was then appointed co-captain along with Ball and Lenny Hayes when Ross Lyon took over as coach in 2007. Under a quirk of the system, Riewoldt took the field in one game that season when he was the club’s co-captain but was not credited as being the match-day captain. It means he has actually already played 200 games in the 10 seasons when he was St Kilda captain, but the record books show 199.
The 2016 season opener will also mark milestones for two other Saints, with Leigh Montagna to play his 250th match and defender Sean Dempster clocking his 150th club game since shifting in 2008 from Sydney, where he had played 54 matches.
When he was appointed to lead the Saints for an 11th season, Riewoldt said he was ”extremely proud to be selected”.
“I had a good post-season break to refresh and spent a lot of time thinking about whether I was still the right person for the role,” Riewoldt said. “I also spoke to Richo (coach Alan Richardson) about what was best for the team.
“In the end, I knew I still had the passion and my teammates wanted me there so I couldn’t be happier or more excited.”
Richardson said that the highly durable Riewoldt, who is set to rack up his 300th career match next week against the Bulldogs, continued to improve as a leader.
“The simple fact is that Nick is an outstanding leader and captain of our club and the coaches and players agree he is the best man for the job,” Richardson said.
“He continues to grow as a captain and still has a genuine hunger to lead – many people associated with the club believe 2015 was actually his best year in the role and I couldn’t argue with that.
“Nick sets extremely high standards for both himself and the group and represents the club very professionally so is a great role model for a young, exciting list. He wants to guide them to another level in 2016 and I know our fans are excited about where this team is going.”
Montagna, meanwhile, will become the 12th footballer to play 250 games for the Saints.
He described winning preliminary finals and playing in the 2009-10 Grand Finals as career highlights.
Contracted until the end of 2017, the 32 year old said he was buoyed to be involved at the club as a new wave of young players came through the system.
“It’s really positive … we’ve now got a bit of class and polish to add to the grunt,” Montagna said.
Most games as skipper of an AFL club
226 – Stephen Kernahan (Carl) 1987-97
224 – Dick Reynolds (Ess) 1939-50
212 – Ted Whitten (Foots) 1957-70
210 – Michael Voss (BL) 1997-2006
199 – Nick Riewoldt (StK), 2005, 2007–
189 – Matthew Pavlich (Frem) 2000-15
188 – John Nicholls (Carl) 1963, 1968-74
184 – Wayne Carey (NM) 1993-2001
182 – Paul Kelly (Syd) 1993-2002
View our gallery of the five men to have captained their team on 200 occasions: