St Kilda legend Nick Riewoldt has described his former club’s decision to trade away Ben McEvoy to Hawthorn as “mind-boggling.”
McEvoy, who played his 250th AFL game in Saturday’s win over Gold Coast, was dealt to the Hawks at the end of 2013 and has been an invaluable addition, winning two premierships and getting appointed captain in 2021.
Speaking on Fox Footy’s Best on Ground, Riewoldt, who was Saints skipper at the time of the trade — which saw the club acquire Shane Savage and a first-round pick (Luke Dunstan) — says McEvoy was pushed out.
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“He didn’t leave, the club traded him. At the time it felt like the people in charge making those decisions were saying, ‘look how clever we are. Let’s trade this bloke and this bloke and we’ll get in some picks, we’ll show how clever we are with recruiting’,” Riewoldt said.
“You’ve got to get your picks right, and they didn’t … it was mind boggling, and still is.
“He’s been a superstar and it he was still at St Kilda — a bit of a void of leadership is the criticism at times — he would’ve been perfect.
“But good luck to him, he’s gone on to great things.”
McEvoy was carried off after his milestone match and embraced by Hawks fans and teammates with his kids on the ground in great scenes.
Fellow Saints great Leigh Montagna also praised his former teammate post-game — a match that ended in the tough ruckman’s head bandaged after a knock.
“Congratulations to Benny McEvoy, big contested mark in that last minute, the headband, he’s everything we’ve seen from him over 250 games,” he said on Fox Footy.
Hawks star Jack Gunston said of McEvoy: “You always love a good that you want to follow, and Ben is that guy. Headband today, of course he did. He’s just such a genuine good bloke, but such a competitor as well.
“It’s not an easy gig playing in the ruck I wouldn’t have thought, he’s just a good fella and I’m glad we got the win for him.”
McEvoy gave a shout out post-match to Dylan Moore playing in his 50th match in true selfless McEvoy style.
“It wasn’t pretty today, but sometimes you’ve got to win ugly. So pleased to get a result in mine and Moorey’s 300th.”