One of the biggest questions to arise after St Kilda’s successful 2019 trade period was whether Rowan Marshall and Paddy Ryder could both thrive in the same team. It took some time, and Ryder’s omission from the team, but against Port Adelaide we got the first positive signs. On the back of the pairs dominance in the middle, and ability to hit the scoreboard, the Saints were able to topple the ladder leading Power in front of a hostile Adelaide Oval crowd.
It was enough to get the thumbs up from Coach Brett Ratten, and change of heart from former skipper Nick Riewoldt. After earlier writing that he felt that the Saints would be better off in playing Marshall one out, he had a different opinion when asked during the week. “I’ve been a big advocate for playing just playing Rowan Marshall one out as the ruckman,” he said on On The Couch. “But when the facts change, then I’m happy to change my opinion. So if Paddy Ryder and Rowan Marshall can deliver what they delivered on the weekend. Giving first use and also hitting the scoreboard when they are playing as forwards, then absolutely you go ahead with the two of them,” he said.
Riewoldt was most excited that both players could excel after their struggles together earlier in the season. “It wasn’t just his form, it was almost suppressing Marshall’s form aswell when the two of them were playing together. So this is the first time they’ve really both turned it on the same game and you want to see more of it but it was a great start,” he said.
As excited as Riewoldt and the St Kilda faithful might have been about the pair combining for 40 hit-outs, 25 disposals (19 contested), eight clearances and four goals, nobody was more pleased than Coach Brett Ratten. “We got four goals from them and we got great use through Paddy’s hit-outs and then Ro’s follow-up at ground level – I think he had seven clearances himself – so I think the balance was absolutely perfect,” he told SEN on Monday. “If we can get that output, that is just brilliant for our team. And to hit the scoreboard and play a big part around clearances, that is the perfect game from both of them,” he said.
While it might have been the perfect game from them, Ratten still isn’t expecting to play them each week. “Some weeks we might take one and how it works, we’ll play with it through the season,” Ratten said. “I think the five-day and four-day breaks will maybe test Paddy a little bit about recovering, but we’ll try and look after him,” he said.