Saints hot under collar over policy
An exhausted Beau Wilkes of the Saints (left) celebrates with a teammate after kicking a goal against Adelaide. Photo: Getty Images
ST KILDA coach Scott Watters has called for another review of the AFL's heat policy after the Saints, Adelaide and Port Adelaide were forced to play in oppressive 38.5-degree heat in the NAB Cup at AAMI Stadium on Sunday.
And it could be even worse in two weeks when Port plays Melbourne in Renmark in South Australia's Riverland - renowned for incredibly hot days at this time of the year.
Watters seemed cautious with what he said, but left no doubt the Saints were not impressed by the conditions. After beating Adelaide by 26 points in the first game, the Saints tired badly in the second to lose to Port by 50.
"You have to have a close look at the heat policy," Watters said. "That was pretty hot. The only adjustment was two extra water carriers today. Those players were under a fair bit of pressure in the second half [of the second game].
"We tried our best to rotate them, but at the end of the day playing in that sort of heat is testing, particularly for younger players.''
AFL media manager Patrick Keane said the league would make an assessment from the games.
"The two quarters we play are obviously shorter than a normal quarter. The bench is significantly bigger than a normal AFL game, and once you play the first game you are able to swap up to seven players for the second game," Keane said. "We will assess that and make a judgment."
Watters said St Kilda's medical staff went into the game "on high alert".
"I guess that is a test of our professionalism to recover," Watters said. "Again, for our younger players in particular, this is what being a professional footballer is all about: accepting the conditions, get back up as soon as possible. That's why the NAB Cup is a great competition because there is an opportunity to develop and grow.''
Despite a huge 50-point loss to the Power in dreadful conditions, Watters took a lot from the second game, particularly the ability of some of his younger players to persist despite the pressures.
"To expose players like Jimmy Webster and Nathan Wright, who played both games today, was good,'' he said.
"I think the second game loss will be a real good opportunity for our younger players to sit down and analyse that game. Putting the pressure of the heat, et cetera to one side - you have got to be able to cope with that - it was a mental test. Some of them I thought were very good; some wilted under the pressure of the conditions.
"We will have a look at that, and knowing this group they will learn quickly."
Adelaide coach Brenton Sanderson said the AFL contacted his club yesterday morning and said the duration of the matches would not be shortened, despite the heat, adding it did not see any need to change anything apart from providing an additional two water carriers.
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