What makes sport so special is emotion – the highs and lows, the euphoria and the heartbreak.
St Kilda have endured a tough buildup to their first match in Shanghai, with coach Alan Richardson and three players all falling ill and Blake Acres ruled out.
The resilience that has marked St Kilda’s AFL season so far is underdoing a stern test in Shanghai.
With coach Alan Richardson and three players falling ill, the Saints will be up against it in Sunday’s match against Port Adelaide.
Jack Billings, Shane Savage and Daniel McKenzie all joined Richardson in missing Saturday’s training session.
It was worrying enough for St Kilda to put Ben Paton and Nick Hind on a last-minute flight to Shanghai.
The two players do not arrive in China until a few hours before the first bounce and Hind will have the mother of AFL debuts if he plays.
Blake Acres was also ruled out with a virus, but he was sick when he arrived in Shanghai.
The third China game and the first for St Kilda is a big clash for the two teams, who are mid-table on 5-5 records and struggling for consistency.
One big bonus for the Saints is the return of captain Jarryn Geary, who has an ugly scar running the length of his upper leg after surgery six weeks ago.
The Saints have had a wretched run with injury and illness this season, especially among key players, and Geary’s speedy recovery is much-needed good news.
“It’s massive, he’s pretty important to our club and he’s probably one of the reasons that we lost four in a row, as well, because of how influential he is in our backline,” said assistant coach Brendon Lade.
“He starts a lot of our defence and also starts a lot of our offence, and he’s also the skipper which has a fair bit of pull.
“His rehab’s been amazing, everything’s gone right and he’s been running well for about three weeks now.”