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No limits

Nick Riewoldt of the St Kilda Saints poses for a photo during the 2014 AFL Captains Day portrait session at Adelaide Oval, Adelaide on March 05, 2014. (Photo: Lachlan Cunningham/AFL Media)
Nick Riewoldt is heading into his 14th AFL season.
Luke Dunstan in particular has been really impressive in the two games so far.
Nick Riewoldt
NO LIMITS. No ceilings.

That's the mantra of St Kilda skipper Nick Riewoldt as the Saints prepare for what shapes as a testing season under new coach Alan Richardson.

They will open the season against Melbourne at Etihad Stadium on March 22 with last year's best and fairest winner Jack Steven sidelined for up to 10 weeks with a foot injury and veterans Lenny Hayes and Leigh Montagna missing through suspension. It means the Demons, who won just two games last year and have not won at the venue since 2007, have already been installed as warm favourites.

"We'll have some challenges early, no doubt about it with suspensions and injuries, but we see that as really exciting with some opportunities for guys to step up and fill a role," Riewoldt said on Wednesday at the Adelaide Oval at the annual AFL captains' media call.

"It has been reported we're in a rebuilding phase but we're not putting any limitations on what we're doing as a group." The Saints rounded out the NAB Challenge in poor fashion on Saturday with a heavy loss to Greater Western Sydney in Wagga, but Riewoldt believed that too much had been read into that result.

"Last week was disappointing as far as the result is concerned but we have plenty of improving to do - we have had a good pre-season, we're pretty fit, so it's all about improving and that's what we're concerned about."
St Kilda is in the midst of the second full rebuild in his time at the club, his first as captain. And he believes he has a clear role to play during this process. "My job is to lead through your actions and to make sure you're setting standards in terms of giving effort and as leaders. We'll make sure we aid the transition and help the young players improve as quickly as possible."

And Riewoldt suggested the first step for the Saints would be to stiffen their backline.

"Naturally we want that transition to take as [little time] as possible, and that's a focus for us. We want to improve all areas of our game, our defence in particular, and become a really strong defensive unit and a team that's really hard to play against."

The rebuild at the Saints is being largely led through the draft and Jack Billings, Luke Dunstan and Blake Acres, who were selected within the first 19 picks, all come to the club with huge expectations.

"There have been some opportunities opening up with Jack going down and Lenny being suspended. Luke Dunstan in particular has been really impressive in the two games so far, so we expect those guys to contend.

"They've got some work to do but we expect them to be great players for the club for a long time."

Riewoldt is entering his 14th season and says he is ready to get started. "I probably felt a bit better when I was 18 or 19, to be honest, but I have had a good pre-season like everyone else, so I just look forward to getting out there and competing."