On Friday, the St. Kilda Football Club of the Australian Football league visited Dove Valley, touring the Broncos’ facilities and taking in practice from the sidelines.
The visit gave the players an up-close look at a sport many of them admire from afar.
“It’s a wonderful experience for us to be able to come over here,” team captain and center half-forward Nick Ryewoldt said. “We’re at the top of our game in Australia, but we’ve got a population of 25 million. To be able to come over here and witness firsthand one of the great teams of American sport is wonderful.”
Ryewoldt, who said his American wife has converted him into a football fan, has attended NFL games before, but said he looked forward to seeing his first NFL practice.
“First time seeing a team practice live, which will be great,” Ryewoldt said. “It’s a team sport obviously and we play the same. But a very different sort of athletes. Our game is more endurance-based and every player has to be skillful and handle the ball, whereas this is obviously a big power sport and a lot more specialized sort of skills. I’m just excited to see how they go about it, how they approach their training sessions.”
Ryewoldt and his teammates will also be in attendance at Sunday’s game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where they’ll be able to see how the Broncos’ work in practice has prepared them for game day.
“I know they’ve got one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, and a good set of receivers, some really exciting defensive players and pretty good on special teams, so I follow it pretty closely,” Ryewoldt said. “We’re going to the game on Sunday, so we’re excited to watch the whole process unfold, the training and the practice and how they transfer that into a real-life game situation.”
The Saints have kicked off their preseason in Boulder, where they are holding a 16-day High Performance Altitude Training Camp at the University of Colorado in preparation for the 2013 AFL Premiership Season. The training will include hikes through the Rocky Mountains and other activities that the Saints and a handful of other AFL teams are doing to get ready for the upcoming season.
On Sunday, the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be televised on Australia on Network TEN’s One HD channel.