St Kilda will consider sending a hard tag to Dustin Martin in a bid to quell the Richmond superstar’s influence and condemn the reigning AFL premiers to their third straight loss.
Martin has averaged 25.5 disposals, 6.5 inside-50s and a goal a game across the opening month, despite Richmond sitting at 2-2.
St Kilda coach Brett Ratten joked the best way to stop the three-time Norm Smith Medallist was to hope he “gets a cold” but emphasised the importance of limiting Martin’s influence at Marvel Stadium on Thursday night.
“He’s a great player and you’re not going to stop the great players getting the ball but you can stop their influence sometimes,” Ratten told reporters.
“I think it’ll be our team, how we go about it, the pressure we can apply.
“You can’t stop Dusty getting the ball, he’s going to get the ball – but he doesn’t have to get it 30 times, he can get it 20 instead.
“But he’s a superstar of the game and we respect what Dusty’s done and (Trent) Cotchin and that but we have to play our way as well.
“… there might be (a hard tag). (Seb Ross is) one that’s done it before.”
It will be the first time St Kilda have faced Richmond since last year’s 31-point semi-final loss and Ratten said the Saints had tried to emulate some of the premiers’ strengths.
“Just how dynamic they are around the ball. That’s something that we put into our pre-season, a real focus for us was to try to (have) faster feet around the contest and the stoppages,” he said.
“But when you’ve got Martin and co there, they get the ball and they explode from those contests and that’ll be something that we’ll have to deny but hopefully we get our opportunity as well.”
Ratten expected injury-prone midfielder Zak Jones and ruckman Rowan Marshall (plantar fascia) to play – bar any late hiccups – with the pair both named in St Kilda’s team and Luke Dunstan and Paul Hunter on standby.
The Saints named an unchanged line-up, with unused medical substitute Ben Long dropped.
Richmond recalled Daniel Rioli and named Kamdyn McIntosh to return from concussion, while Jack Ross and Will Martyn were dropped.
Ratten said Paddy Ryder was tracking well after returning to the club and would either be called upon against Port Adelaide next Sunday or Hawthorn the following week but he won’t line up in the VFL on Friday.
James Frawley (hamstring) is set to return via the VFL next week.