St Kilda are bracing for a string of possible forced changes for their AFL semi-final against Richmond as Paddy Ryder undergoes scans on his injured hamstring.
Ryder was hurt in the dying stages of Saturday's three-point elimination final win over the Western Bulldogs and may not play again this season.
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The Saints also have concerns around Ben Long, who will come under scrutiny from the match review officer after his high bump on Jack Macrae, while Jake Carlisle is in doubt for the Tigers clash with his partner due to give birth soon.
On a positive note, Josh Battle could return from a foot injury.
The Saints' first finals win in a decade was also the first of Ryder's 257-game career, but it ended with the 32-year-old veteran on the bench in tears.
It was bittersweet for Ryder, who moved to St Kilda ahead of the 2020 season as one of five new signings in a bumper trade period.
"His performance this year has sort of showed everybody that he's getting back to his best," Saints coach Brett Ratten said.
"He seems like he's got a spring in his step and it's a real shame, if it is a hamstring, that he'll miss (next week).
"He's played some really good football and been a great addition to our footy club."
Fans react to ‘shattering’ Paddy Ryder news
There was plenty of support and sympathy for Ryder, who made the move from Port Adelaide to St Kilda last off-season.
Many AFL pundits took to Twitter to express their frustrations over Ryder’s awfully-timed injury.
Sydney Morning Herald journalist Andrew Wu made the point that Ryder’s chances of finals success had always hit unfortunate snags.
“Your football heart aches for Paddy Ryder,” Wu wrote on Twitter.
“Lost time through the Essendon supplements scandal, switched clubs, switched again to revive his career, and now injured in dying minutes of his first finals win.”
Others also took to the platform to share their disappointment for the well-respected ruckman.
Shattered for Paddy Ryder with confirmation of his hamstring injury. Was lucky enough to talk to him in the lead up to the game. He desperately wanted to taste a finals win for the 1st time. Did that in a dominant display, but he’ll be on the sidelines for Tigers game pic.twitter.com/oa6oqUYvGk— Glenn McFarlane (@MaccaHeraldSun) October 3, 2020
Your football heart aches for Paddy Ryder. Lost time through the Essendon supplements scandal, switched clubs, switched again to revive his career, and now injured in dying minutes of his first finals win. #AFLSaintsDogs #AFLFinals— Andrew Wu (@wutube) October 3, 2020
Confirmation of a hamstring strain for Paddy Ryder. Shattering @FOXFOOTY— Jon Ralph (@RalphyHeraldSun) October 3, 2020
Ryder looks like a man who knows he won’t be playing next week. Really hope not, was enormous all game long #AFLSaintsDogs— James McKern (@jLmcKern) October 3, 2020
Despite the injury to Ryder, Saints coach Brett Ratten was confident his side would still be able to take it to the Tigers.
St Kilda upset Richmond at Marvel Stadium in round four but face a huge challenge against the reigning premiers, who entered the 2020 finals as flag favourites before being beaten in a qualifying final by Brisbane.
"We played Richmond a long time ago and they've been in really good form," Ratten said.
"They've been a great team for three years, so we've got our work cut out, but I think tonight (the win over the Bulldogs) just shows a bit of belief.
"We absorbed the pressure and it's not easy ... but we got through and got the result.
"That will give our group a little bit of confidence."
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