‘I’d rather not leave’: Veteran Ryder keen to play on with the Saints

Amid fears his decorated AFL career may be over, St Kilda veteran Paddy Ryder has declared his intention to play on next season.

The 34-year-old is sidelined by a calf injury and whether or not he returns this season will likely depend on the 10th-placed Saints playing finals.

Paddy Ryder is keen to play on at the Saints.Credit:Getty Images

But the out-of-contract ruckman is keen to extend his career in 2023, regardless of how this year plays out.

“At this time of the year, as an older bloke, your contract comes up and there’s always those doubts surrounding it, but my best footy when I’m fit is still pretty good,” Ryder told reporters on Thursday.

“I’ll just get through the next couple of weeks with the calf and re-evaluate everything.

“I was always going to have a think about it, but I’m looking forward to hopefully playing on.”

Ryder said he is yet to enter contract negotiations with St Kilda.

But the former Essendon and Port Adelaide ruckman is keen to remain with the Saints, who he joined via a trade deal at the end of 2019.

“There hasn’t been anything but that’s not to say that no one’s interested or anything, we’ve just been focused on playing footy, winning games and everything like that,” Ryder said.

“It hasn’t been on the forefront of my mind, but I’m sure over the next couple of weeks, now that I’ve got a bit of time, there’ll be some conversations happening.

“I’d rather stay instead of moving clubs all the time.

“I enjoy my time at the Saints and I’ve got some really close mates there and family and Bradley Hill, so I’d rather not leave.”

Ryder admitted he felt his calves starting to fatigue before suffering the injury during last week’s loss to the Western Bulldogs, and said he had worked through the issues with club medical staff.

The veteran is confident his body could hold up next year and has been buoyed by his ability to overcome nagging Achilles issues this year.

Ryder has been one of St Kilda’s most important players in his 12 appearances this season, building on his dangerous ruck combination with Rowan Marshall.

Saints coach Brett Ratten said a decision on Ryder’s future would come down to list management.

“He’s played some really good football this year and it’s been really encouraging … but we have to sit down as a group to make that decision,” Ratten said.

“And that will come in maybe the next three or four weeks, but we might take until the end of the year to work it out.”

Marshall will lead the Saints’ ruck division in the important meeting with West Coast on Sunday.

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