St Kilda coach Brett Ratten has defended the inclusion of Dan Hannebery for his first AFL game of the year after ex-skipper Nick Riewoldt questioned the value of the move.
The injury-prone veteran midfielder will line up against Hawthorn at Marvel Stadium on Saturday afternoon in his first senior match since round 23 last year.
Riewoldt said it was a “bit baffling” Ratten would opt for the off-contract 31-year-old over the opportunity to expose youngsters such as Mitch Owens and Ryan Byrnes and build for the future.
But the coach said the value Hannebery brought to the side, who are battling for a finals berth, could not be ignored.
“I think we’ve given the younger players a fair bit of exposure and when you’ve got a player of Dan’s quality … if you look at the players that we had back at VFL level, his performance was better than theirs so we do have to reward people that are…