Saints rush reinforcements to Shanghai for AFL clash
ST KILDA is flying in reinforcements as a back-up plan, as a trio of players and coach Alan Richardson battle illness.
Ben Paton and Nick Hind will fly to Shanghai on Saturday night in case they are required to play on Sunday.
Saints football boss Simon Lethlean said the move "made sense".
"We had three guys who felt ill on Friday afternoon and while they are recovering well, we wanted to cover all bases," he said.
"Speculation of a specific meal being the cause of these minor illnesses is completely false. As everyone knows, travelling overseas can present these challenges and we expect the players to be back to full health tomorrow.
"With Blake Acres already withdrawn from the team with a virus, it made sense to bring over Nick and Ben.
"At this stage, we expect both will be onlookers tomorrow."
The Saints' final run on Saturday before their Shanghai showdown with Port Adelaide was without Richardson and three players.
Richardson was feeling a bit off-colour and opted to stay back at the team hotel with Jack Billings, Shane Savage and Dan McKenzie, who are all expected to play on Sunday despite the minor illness.
Despite reports that up to six players had been struck down, St Kilda was adamant it was only the trio and Richardson.
It is understood that none of the three players in question ate outside the hotel on Friday night, but the illness may not be food-related.
Their absence comes a day after Blake Acres was ruled out of the clash due to a virus.
Assistant coach Brendon Lade stepped in for Richardson and said "they're all fine".
"Richo's just feeling a little bit off so he stayed at the hotel and will get a bit of rest and hopefully he'll be right tomorrow (Sunday)," he said.
We had a couple stay back at the hotel, but they're all fine.
"Definitely not (enough to put us off the experience). It's great coming here to Shanghai. I've been here the last two years with Port.
"For a group to come over and spend four or five days here, that's really good for the group and we just need to get the result now."
Lethlean said Richardson was dealing with "something fairly minor and recovering quickly", and that he was expected to be at full health by Sunday's game.
Lade said the team would welcome skipper Jarryn Geary - who missed five games after having surgery on his heavily corked quad - back with open arms.
"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," Lade said.
"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."North Melbourne will be hunting a senior coach at season's end, and Lade echoed the sentiments of fellow Saints assistant coach Brett Ratten, saying he would be open to any such opportunity.
"Most assistants aspire to be a senior coach, and until you get there, you don't know if you're going to be good at it or if you'll like it," he said.
"We all aspire to be that person - whether you get there is another thing. I'm no different to any other assistant coach. I'd like to get there one day."