NICK Riewoldt has experienced many special moments in his career but the opportunity to play football on one of Australia’s and New Zealand’s most sacred days is an honour for the Saints captain.
St Kilda hosts the Sydney Swans in the first game for premiership points outside Australia on Thursday.
The game will take place on Anzac Day, one of the most significant days in the history of Australia and New Zealand.
Riewoldt said he was thrilled to take to the field on a big day for two countries and also in recent times for the AFL.
“I have always admired Collingwood and Essendon. They’ve really had a mortgage on that ability to play on Anzac Day and represent the sport,” he said.
“To play on Anzac Day in another country for the first time in the history of the sport is a momentous occasion and as a playing group we feel really privileged to be doing that and our effort come game day is going to reflect that.”
While Riewoldt will be setting foot in unfamiliar territory tomorrow, he said it was unlikely to affect his preparation.
“I played at Manuka Oval (in Canberra) a couple of weeks ago and I’d never been to that ground before so I don’t think that is too unique these days because the game does reach different parts of Australia and there are boutique stadiums popping up left and right so that aspect isn’t too different,” he said.
“The crowd remains to be seen how they are going to react but I still think there will be a large percentage of Sydney and St Kilda supporters who will come across and they will have made themselves heard. I’m really excited to get out there.”
Riewoldt said he had developed a strong appreciation for the significance of Anzac Day and emphasised that the Saints were looking to make Wellington a home away from home in the long-term.
“It does encapsulate so much more than just football – Scott (Watters) and I went for a walk around the war memorial in Canberra a couple of weeks ago. There is so much rich history and so many wonderful stories that Anzac Day is all about. We go out there for two hours and put on a performance,” he said.
“The players are 100 per cent behind it. The ramifications with the draw and whether we play fewer games in Melbourne remains to be seen. You play two games some years in Perth and this is a shorter trip across. We are really excited about playing here and making this a real fortress.”