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Saints stars sit out another match
Robert Grant
11:42 AEST Thu Feb 28 2013

Key St Kilda stars Nick Riewoldt and Lenny Hayes will miss their AFL side's pre-season clash with Sydney on Sunday.

The pair also skipped round one of the pre-season competition, meaning it's likely they will start the season proper with just two matches under their belt.

St Kilda coach Scott Watters says the two veterans will be available for the final two rounds of the pre-season, and is upbeat they will be match fit in time for round one.

"Nick's going extremely well ... generally those players are tracking well and on course for where we want them to be," Watters said.

"They'll potentially play (rounds) three and four (of the pre-season)."

Watters said St Kilda were more focused on their premiership-season team the deeper the club moved into the warm-up competition.

"I think it would be fair to say that most clubs in NAB (Cup rounds) one and two still have a strong development focus," Watters said.

"They still want to expose younger players and some players who are potentially on the fringe trying to challenge for selection.

"But as you move through the NAB campaign by the time you get to three and four you're getting a lot closer to the side you want on the park for round one."

He said St Kilda would still leave the bulk of their experienced players out of the line-up for this Sunday.

"We'll still have a number of younger players out there this weekend.

"We're able to bring back in Sean Dempster, Sam Fisher and Rhys Stanley - they will come in for modified game time.

"But there are probably eight or nine players that we would consider for our best side who won't play this week."

Saints midfielder Jack Steven signed a two-year contract extension on Thursday, ensuring he will remain with the club until at least the end of 2015.

Steven had been contracted until the end of this season.

"Jack is a key component of our midfield this year ... (he) is ready for greater responsibility and challenges," Watters said of the 22-year-old.

Meanwhile, Watters stood by the Saints' decision to sack defender Jason Gram last year due to a series of off-field indiscretions.

Gram said he did not deserve to be fired and plans to try to return to the AFL.

But it won't be back at St Kilda, with Watters saying he would not be "a good fit" in the side now.

Watters said he would prefer that Gram was still playing for the club, but his actions made it impossible for them to continue to support him.


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