St Kilda coach Alan Richardson has complete confidence that Nick Riewoldt is suffering no lingering symptoms from his latest concussion.
Richardson spoke to reporters at Melbourne Airport on Friday and confirmed Riewoldt had passed concussion protocols following the head knock he received in the Saints’ courageous win over Collingwood.
Young forward Paddy McCartin was also knocked out in that game, but has also been given the green light to take on Hawthorn in Launceston on Saturday.
“They’ve passed their medicals, trained really well and pulled up in a really positive way – they’re right to go,” Richardson said.
“They’re all done. (The protocols) are pretty extensive these days to make sure that the guys are fit and healthy and ready to go.”
Riewoldt’s incident was particularly concerning on the back of last year’s sickening head clash with Adelaide’s Brodie Smith – when he was hospitalised overnight.
But Richardson said last week’s knock – in a tackle by Levi Greenwood – wasn’t close to the same magnitude.
Riewoldt was not allowed back on the field after halftime despite passing a concussion test.
“This was relatively minor. Last year’s was a big hit and you sit there as a coach in the box and of course you’re concerned for your players,” he said.
“But we’ve got a really impressive group of doctors and (the players) get fantastic treatment … they wouldn’t be playing unless they were right to play.”
The Saints brought in Tom Lee, Eli Templeton and Blake Acres after Luke Dunstan (hamstring) and Jimmy Webster (quad) joined Dylan Roberton (knee) on the casualty list after the bruising encounter against the Pies.
Hawthorn regain skipper Luke Hodge from a broken arm but lose influential defender Josh Gibson to hamstring tightness.
Richardson demanded that last week’s courageous effort – when they finished with one fit player on the bench – should become his side’s new benchmark.
Nothing less than that will do against the Hawks – especially at Aurora Stadium where they will be gunning for their 16th straight win and sixth in succession against St Kilda.