Saint Nick Shows St Kilda the Way; When Plain Talking Was Needed, Riewoldt Delivered Home Truths

Article excerpt

NOT for the first time, Nick Riewoldt saw two large opponents blocking his way.

This time, they were not on the field. They were the elephants in the room at St Kilda's 2007 best-and-fairest presentation.

One was the potential shutting of the club's premiership window after an AFL season in which the Saints missed the finals for the first time in four years.

The other was the messy boardroom struggle in which Greg Westaway had ousted Rod Butterss as club president a week earlier.

Riewoldt used his speech after winning the best-and-fairest award to tackle both head-on.

"You've talked the talk, now it's time to deliver on what you've said," Riewoldt told Westaway and his board, saying they needed to spend more money urgently on an under-resourced football department.

Then he turned his attention to his teammates.

"We've really come to a fork in the road. We can go one of two ways Co we can be a competitive football team and hover around the mark, or we can go down the road to a premiership.

"Too often we let our mateship get in the way of the truth and it gets in the way of us doing and saying the things we need to do and say to win a premiership.

"Until we have everyone asking themselves honestly the question Cyam I doing enough' and challenging each other on it, then we're not going to achieve what we want to achieve."

There's never been any doubt about Riewoldt the player.

If there was any doubt about Riewoldt the leader, it was dispelled there and then.

Three months later, he was named sole captain for the 2008 season. Since then, St Kilda has been preliminary finalists and twice grand finalists.

A strong-marking, goal-kicking key forward with phenomenal endurance and courage, Riewoldt is one St Kilda player who can turn a game off his own boot.

Look no further than last week's preliminary final win over the Western Bulldogs. Riewoldt reversed the Saints' halftime deficit, single-handedly breaking the match open in the third quarter on the way to another best-on-ground performance. …