Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT - CHRIS CA­VANAGH

IN the mo­ments af­ter his de­but match, Nick Riewoldt asked his dad Joe if he would be a “one- game won­der”.

The then 18- year- old had gath­ered only three dis­pos­als for St Kilda in a 97- point Round 15 loss to Ade­laide.

But the his­tory books will have it as merely a poor start to a bril­liant ca­reer, which the Saints’ star yes­ter­day called time on af­ter 17 sea­sons at the high­est level.

Now 34, the for­ward told coach Alan Richard­son last week of his de­ci­sion to re­tire at sea­son’s end and broke the news to team­mates yes­ter­day be­fore fronting the me­dia.

Flanked by par­ents Joe and Fiona, brother Alex, wife Catherine and chil­dren James and Wil­liam, Riewoldt re­mained largely com­posed dur­ing a 32- minute press con­fer­ence that was also watched on by team­mates and club staff at St Kilda’s Seaford head­quar­ters.

Hav­ing had a strong drive to con­tinue play­ing un­til re­cently ask­ing ques­tions of him­self as spec­u­la­tion about his fu­ture mounted, Riewoldt said he “couldn’t be more con­vinced” that the time was right to hang up the boots.

“I’ve got to do some­thing I love, play a sport I love, with a club that I ab­so­lutely love for 17 years,” Riewoldt said.

“While the 10- year- old boy in me would love for that to last for­ever, the re­al­ity is that it is time for me to step aside.

“I’ve given ev­ery­thing I pos­si­bly can to the game and to the footy club and there’s a lit­tle bit of petrol left in the tank but not much, so that’s why I’m com­fort­able with the de­ci­sion.

“To be a pro­fes­sional AFL foot­baller for half my life, I still have to pinch my­self. I have been in an in­cred­i­bly priv­i­leged po­si­tion to be able to do what I love and call it a ca­reer.”

The No. 1 draft pick in 2000, Riewoldt has played 333 games for the Saints as a unique key for­ward known for his work rate and mark­ing.

Play­ing his ju­nior footy on the Gold Coast, Riewoldt was zoned to the Bris­bane Lions un­til the start of 2000 when the AFL changed the re­cruit­ing bound­aries. It robbed the Lions of one of Queens­land’s greats and po­ten­tially robbed Riewoldt of three flags.

Riewoldt summed up his time at the Saints as one that has gone “full cir­cle”, with the Saints fin­ish­ing 15th in 2001 be­fore grand fi­nals in 2009 and 2010. But he never got that elu­sive premier­ship.

Another re­build has since taken place with the Saints on an up­ward tra­jec­tory.

“I’ve got four games of footy and hope­fully fi­nals to play so I’ll pre­pare the last part of the sea­son as I al­ways have with a view to play fi­nals,” Riewoldt said.

“I haven’t had time to look any fur­ther than that but I’m ex­cited about the pos­si­bil­i­ties.”

EMO­TIONAL DE­CI­SION: Nick Riewoldt speak­ing yes­ter­day and ( be­low) his first AFL touch in 2001.

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