“He hasn’t played a senior game yet. We are all excited about the raw athleticism that we see on display but, as a player who played a similar position, albeit about three inches shorter, we just need to temper those expectations a little bit,” he said.
“There is no denying he is an exciting talent as we all hope he goes really well and just gets some continuity. As a young player, that’s what you want – you want to be able to play every week and stay out on the park and contribute and play your role. I think, internally, that will be the expectation for him.”
King was busy in the first quarter of the Saints’ opening Marsh Community Series match against Hawthorn, booting a goal and hitting the post from two set shots. But he was unable to have a major influence after the break.
He is likely to have another chance to impress in the Saints’ final pre-season hit-out, against Collingwood at Morwell on Sunday.
Riewoldt, who returned to Moorabbin on Tuesday to promote the fifth year of fundraising for Maddie’s Match in round three, said King should embrace the hype that has followed him into the season.
“Use the expectation to drive you in your preparation, to drive you in your commitment to get the best out of yourself every day. The conversations I have had with Max, and from what I have witnessed, he is a very driven individual,” he said.
“I think he is going to handle those expectations. That’s why football clubs are so great. You are not out there by yourself. You are in a team. You are part of a football club – you have a great support network around you.”
Riewoldt, at 193 centimetres, was slightly undersized as a key forward but used his athleticism and fitness to finish his career after 336 matches as one of the greats of the game. Early in his career, his fellow forwards – namely Aaron Hamill, now a Saints assistant coach – provided physical protection for him on the field. However, Riewoldt doesn’t think King, listed at 90 kilograms, will need help.
“Have you stood next to him? I would be more worried about the people around him. I reckon he will be fine. He is a big, strong kid,” he said.
This year’s fundraising for Maddie’s Vision, named in honour of Riewoldt’s sister who five years ago lost her fight against bone marrow failure, will feature a bike ride on game day carrying the match ball from the Saints’ base in Moorabbin to Marvel Stadium, with Nick Riewoldt leading the peloton.
Jon Pierik is cricket writer for The Age. He also covers AFL and has won awards for his cricket and basketball writing.