Paddy Ryder will attempt to turn the clock back 15 years this season when he lines up the lightest he's been since his early days as an Essendon beanpole.

Thanks to a strict off-season diet regime, the St Kilda ruckman has slimmed to 93kg; down from the 97-100kg range he's played at over the last few years.

It's a notable change, with the 31-year-old looking a fit, trim and mobile figure in the Saints' early match simulation sessions at Moorabbin.

And, it's one the 2017 All Australian hopes will increase his durability and ease the load on his previously problematic Achilles tendon so he can make the twilight years of his career count.

"Getting a chance to play another couple of years, that was part of the deal … to be able to rock up here and be light and get through pre-season," Ryder told

"In the last couple of years, I wasn't moving around as well as I can so it's a good thing to drop some weight.

If I maintain it, it will be the lightest I've played at since my early Essendon days when I was a stick figure.

- Paddy Ryder

"I'm feeling the benefits of it. I'm feeling happy, I'm feeling light running around."

Ryder didn't do anything drastic to drop the kilos. He made smarter food choices and "put in a bit more training" in the down months.

His off-season was different anyway. Instead of heading off overseas like many of his contemporaries, Ryder relocated his family from Adelaide's Henley Beach to the Melbourne suburb of Bentleigh.

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To most, the task would have appeared fraught with difficulty, given the smallest member of the Ryder clan – baby Sage – was just a few months old.

But, Ryder said the easy-natured bub made the move for him, his wife Jess, nine-year-old Liliana and six-year-old Harlan much easier than expected.

Picturing how his young family would fit in with the Saints also played a part in why he chose them.

Coach Brett Ratten has encouraged his young team to fill the club with kids, and with the likes of Jarryn Geary, Nathan Brown, Jake Carlisle and Dylan Roberton becoming dads in recent years, there's been plenty of laughter around the place over summer.

With his family sorted, Ryder also wanted to be somewhere he could forge a more even rucking partnership than he had at Port Adelaide. 

What also excited him about the Saints was young ruckman Rowan Marshall.

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After being shunted into a predominantly forward role at the Power last year because of Scott Lycett's recruitment and Charlie Dixon's broken leg, Ryder sought a partnership where the balance between rucking and attack was more even.

"The main thing is being flexible and knowing we're able to complement each other no matter what," Ryder said.

"If we come up against a ruckman and Rowan's been good against him in the past, then he'll get first crack and if he's going well, we'll leave him in there.

That's how it will play out in the games; if he's on top, I'll leave him in there and play my role up forward, but if he needs a hand, then I might come up.

- Paddy Ryder

Ryder didn't join a completely unfamiliar group at the Saints. Carlisle is an ex-Bombers teammate, Dougal Howard, Logan Austin and assistant coach Brendon Lade were at the Power, and Bradley Hill – their explosive new wingman from Fremantle – is his second cousin.

Hill grew up in Clarkson, Perth, and as a kid "was always camping on the loungeroom floor" in Ryder's Ridgewood family home.

"Once he told me he was going to come here, that made my decision a lot easier because I always wanted to play footy with him, we just didn't know where or when it would happen," Ryder said.

I always knew he was a pretty good player … but seeing him up close, he's actually a lot better than I thought he was, which is saying something because he was already a freak in my eyes.

- Paddy Ryder

With a two-year contract and his 32nd birthday approaching next month, Ryder knows time isn't on his side.

But with scope to jump the way he did in his 2017 All-Australian year, which makes up for his comparative shortness against the competition's ruckmen, he's determined his days as a Saint won't just boost his retirement fund.

"The last couple of years haven't really panned out too well for me at Port Adelaide," he said.

"I know I'm not going to come here and break records and that sort of stuff but hopefully I can help out as much as I can … and get back playing some good footy myself."