In recent seasons, it has been out with the old and in with the new at St Kilda. With the loss of experienced midfielders Dal Santo, Lenny and Goddard, it was always going to take time for the Saints to settle and improve.
This was particularly evident in the inconsistent form shown in 2015. The Saints didn’t just fluctuate from game to game, they fluctuated from quarter to quarter. They were level pegging with many teams until half time before dropping away or they were well behind and charged home such as when they mowed down the Doggies in round 6. Overall these flashes of brilliance were promising but amounted to few wins.
6 wins, 15 losses and 1 draw sounds like a poor year but the development of young players like Dunstan, Newnes, Billings, Bruce, Longer, Roberton and Goddard was invaluable. The Saints lessened the reliance on ageing guns Montagna and Riewoldt although with a young squad they did fatigue late in the year.
B: Sean Dempster, Hugh Goddard, Jimmy Webster
HB: Dylan Roberton, Luke Delaney, Sam Fisher
C: Jarryn Geary, Luke Dunstan, Jack Newnes
HF: Jack Billings, Nick Riewoldt, Jack Sinclair
F: Jack Lonie, Josh Bruce, Paddy McCartin
Foll: Billy Longer, David Armitage, Jack Steven
I/C: Leigh Montagna, Sam Gilbert, Maverick Weller, Seb Ross
Fringe: Shane Savage, Tim Membrey, Blake Acres, Nathan Freeman, Jade Gresham, Daniel McKenzie,
Although Saints fans are unlikely to see 2016 as anything other than another development year, they must be happy with how the team structure is shaping up. The Saints have talented tall and small players right across the ground and they just need some time to improve.
Goddard and Roberton look to be the types of players to build a defence around and Carlisle’s absence will only fast-track their improvement. Dunstan, Steven, Armitage, Billings, Newnes and likely Gresham will form a strong core of gun midfielders while Bruce and McCartin have the key forward posts covered.
Nobody said that covering the retirement and departure of the guns of the past 5 years would be easy, but the Saints are going about it the right way.
They won’t charge up the ladder yet, but it will happen. There will be life after Nick and Lenny!
Don’t expect anything other than a high draft pick in 2016 but watch this space in 2017-2018!Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.
THE AGEING GUN
Apologies to Nick Riewoldt (Forward, $490,100) who is earmarked to play further up the ground this year. I just can’t see him playing 20+ games so the heading applies to:
Leigh Montagna – F/M – $599,000
2015 Av. 111 from 17 games
Past: 89, 115, 99, 101, 115, 125, 97, 102
2015: Montagna played round 1 but he was then rested until round 6 due to knee concerns. After one more break in round 7, he played every game from round 8 until the end of the year. Overall he dominated with 29 possessions and 5 tackles per game playing a predominantly outside role meaning he only produced 4 scores under 100 (91, 86, 71 and 93) for the year.
PROs: He was super consistent in 2015 with 13 tonnes from 17 games and he seemed to attract little attention from taggers. Across his career he has been pretty durable.
CONs: At 32, he’s likely to spend less time in the middle and more time forward as Richo plans for the future. Although he’s been durable across his career, his Supercoach scoring has been inconsistent from year to year. Only once in his career has he posted back-to-back averages over 110 (09-10).
Verdict: He’s likely to score pretty well again but he’s a little risky given his age and price. Upgrade target for me but quite a few coaches will start with him.
THE NEW ELITE?
Jack Steven – M – $562,700
2015 Av. 104 from 22 games.
Past: 85, 110, 90, 78, 63
2015: After an interrupted preseason reduced his output in 2014, Steven was back to his best in 2015, playing 22 games for an average of 27 possessions and 7 tackles per game. A player who excels in the defensive pressure aspect of the game, Steven’s only negatives were his kicking and increased outside role (contested possession rate of 33% compared to a career average of 40%) that prevented him from entering the elite.
PROs: Due to his high tackle rate, Steven doesn’t pump out many low scores. Twice in 2015 he was held to 16 possessions by a tagger (Viney and Curnow) but he scored 90 and 102 respectively on the back of 12 and 11 tackles. In fact he was tagged quite often in 2015 and his lowest score was 77 due to laying only 1 tackle for the game against Jacobs from North. An amazing statistic for Steven was that in 22 games, he dropped under 100 on 11 occasions but only once did he score less than 80. How’s that for a low standard deviation for the stats boffins out there?
CONs: As mentioned above, Steven isn’t a great kick and he doesn’t win a lot of contested ball so he often scores quite poorly from massive disposal counts. Considering he amassed over 30 possessions on 7 occasions it was surprising to find he only scored over 130 SC points once (a massive 171 against West Coast, 37 touches, 12 tackles).
Verdict: Steven has the ability, stats and is the prefect age (26 in March) to push his average higher in 2016.Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.
THE DEFENSIVE P.O.D
Dylan Roberton – D – $488,900
2015 Av. 90.6 from 20 games.
Past: 50, 75, 48, 45, 64
Vest: 1 Red, subbed late in Q3 of round 1 (GWS)
2015: While we were all raving about Newnes early in 2015, most of us ignored Roberton until late in the season. His year started a little slowly with scores fluctuating between 60s and 123 (against the Pies in round 3), but from round 9 until 19 he scored over 100 on 4 occasions and in the 90s on 3 occasions without dropping below 80 once. His final 3 game scores were 66, 82 and 46 but he did miss round 21 with an ankle injury that may have affected his scores in the final two games. All up, an impressive year from the mobile big man where he increased his SC output by 40 points from 2014!
PROs: He is generally used loose in defence allowing him to pick up plenty of easy possessions, averaging 21 possessions and 6 marks per game for the year.
CONs: He has struggled with ankle injuries earlier in his career and he again rolled his ankle in a scratch match on February 12, 2016.
Verdict: If he’s fit for round 1, seriously consider him.
DO YOU BELIEVE THE HYPE?
Jack Billings – F – $455,100
2015 Av. 84.3 from 9 games.
Past: 61 from 16 games in debut year, 2014
2015: After his preseason was interrupted by a hamstring strain, Billings was a bit rusty on his return to the field in round 2, scoring 65 and 62 in his first two games back. From then he improved rapidly, amassing 20+ possessions in 6 of the next 7 matches before shin problems forced him out for the year. At his best he picked up 22 possessions and kicked 3 out of his 4 goals late in round 6 when he dragged the Saints back from a massive deficit to overhaul the Doggies. For that effort: 143 SC points, his only tonne for the year and the third of his career.
PROs: He’ll split his time between the midfield and forward line this year so his scores will improve. From the flashes of brilliance he’s displayed, it is clear that Billings has talent and the club is building the hype by describing him as the next “big thing”.
CONs: He’s a bit injury prone and St Kilda seem prepared to manage him carefully so he’s likely to be rested.
Verdict: Yes, he’ll be a star and he could break-out in 2016 but he’s injury prone so he’s another case of risk versus reward…
THE THIRD-YEAR BREAK-OUT
Luke Dunstan – M – $378,000
2015 Av. 70 from 19 games.
Past: 75 from 16 games in 2014.
Vests: 2 Green, on Q4 in round 14 (Ess) and on Q3 of round 22 (Syd).
2015: It was more of the same for Dunstan in 2015, spending most of the year in the midfield again. As happens with young midfielders, his scores fluctuated wildly from 43 up to 116 across his 19 games for the year. He struggled a bit towards the end of the season, being rested twice in rounds 19 and 20 with a calf niggle and he was also vested twice late in the year.
PROs: He’s entering his third year, he attends most centre bounces and he wins plenty of contested ball. When his vested games are deducted he averaged just over 20 possessions and 75 SC points per game in 2015.
CONs: His kicking is poor and he did plateau in 2015. Even if he breaks out as expected, he’ll need to be upgraded at some stage.
Verdict: He’s no certainty to break-out but my gut guarantees he’ll increase his average to approximately 90. I still won’t select him though!
RISK v REWARD
You expected Nathan Freeman (Mid, $123,900), didn’t you? It seems unlikely he’ll be ready for round 1 but if you want details, please see Schwartzwalder’s great Sneak Peaks for details.
Blake Acres – M – $256,700
2015 Av. 47.6 from 7 games.
Past: 51 from 3 games in 2014 (2 vests!)
Vests: 3 Green: On Q4, round 5 (Ess), on Q3, round 8 (WC) and on Q3, round 11 (Melb).
2015: When he played, Acres looked the part but in the last 2 seasons he has missed blocks of games with 6 separate injuries so he has only managed 10 games in 2 years, 5 of them vest affected. At his best in the VFL, Acres has shown he can consistently find the ball and kick goals.
PROs: Word out of the club sounds like they want him in the midfield and he’s tracking well so far in the preseason.
CONs: Very injury prone.
Verdict: It’s a risk, but he will score well if he stays fit. A steal at that price.
GOOD THINGS COME IN SMALL PACKAGES
Jade Gresham – M – $144,300
2015 National Draft #18
2015: Gresham moved from a small defender to a midfielder for his TAC side, the Northern Knights, averaging nearly 30 possessions (40% contested), 5 clearances, 5 tackles and 1 goal per game. He was selected to play in the U18 championships, averaging 23 possessions per game and again rating well for tackles and goal scoring. At the Combine he proved to be skilled, quick off the mark and to have good endurance, making him the complete package. Given his small stature (177cm), he was compared to Lachie Neale during draft week.
Verdict: The Saints need midfielders to support Armitage and Steven so he should play early.
CAN’T TOUCH THIS
Bailey Rice – D – $117,300.
Warning: A Father-son selection, Rice was likely to receive games early but he was diagnosed with Glandular fever in recent weeks. Avoid!
Leave a comment / Scroll to bottom