(Written & Created By AllSaints)
Lock & Load:
Pfft, you’re avin’ a giraffe inch ya! The sherrin won’t be finding its way into the Saints back half much in 2019! In all seriousness, roles and the best six remain unclear down at Moorabbin. The Saints continue to trial the popular Josh Battle ($232,100, FWD only) in the role of third tall as a rebounding intercept (think Tom Doedee), given his innate ability to read the game. The JLT series will allow us to greater understand the Saints’ structure in the back half, so Locks will have to wait.
In the meantime, there are a couple to keep a close eye on in the pre-season proper. Following a serious heart-scare at GMHBA last season Dylan Roberton ($297,100) remains on a modified program but is on track for a Rd1 return. That injury-affected score against the Cats and his lack of games (only 4 in 2018) make him a steal at this discounted price. His average was nearly 80 prior to that game and has averaged 90+ in two of the previous three seasons (92.6 in 2017). Dylan could be a decent cash-generator, points-getter and stepping stone to an elite DEF in 2019. Jimmy Webster ($472,300) took over the role and was producing elite outputs in the first half of 2018, before injury struck in Rd13 (103.8 from his first 10 games). Post-byes, he never quite got back to that form, playing a number of differing roles and suffering further groin and abductor issues. It’ll be one or the other in 2019, so keep a close eye during the JLT for roles if you are interested in Roberton (or Webster).
NEWS UPDATE: Having had a pretty decent start to his AFL career, Hunter Clark ($293,500) is making strong claims for a full-time midfield role in 2019. He’s demonstrated skills and composure well beyond his years and smashed his previous best 3km time trial last Saturday. He is however awkwardly priced and an average less than 80, would leave us in no-man’s-land. He is training full-time with the midfield group now, having over-delivered against all of Richo’s set targets for the pre-season.
Callum Wilkie ($124,900) is a mature-aged marking-machine the Saints took at Pick 3 in this year’s Rookie Draft. From North Adelaide, the intercept defender averaged over 25 disposals and 8.6 marks, winning the flag in the SANFL this season. If he starts, lock him in. Second-year Sainter Oscar Clavarino ($123,900) is pushing for a debut in 2019. As a key position defender there may be better options, but he will be worth watching and could generate cash while sitting on your pine.
Lock & Load
Seb Ross ($558,400) is a midfield ball-magnet who ranked 5th for effective disposals and 7th for disposals per game in 2018. The former first-round draft pick is coming into his 8th season at the top level, still only 25 and could enjoy his best season yet, with the arrival of Hannebery likely freeing him up a bit more in 2019. Having only missed one game in the last three years and averaging 125 in his last six games in 2018, he has to be in the mix for the top-10 MIDs in 2019. If he shows this form in the front half of 2019, he could be a decent upgrade target after his early bye in Rd12.
Jack Steele ($512,600) is a modern-day 187cm, 90kg contested beast. Looking to build his tank this off-season (5th in 3km time trial this week), he is preparing for another breakout season, as in 2017 (where his SC average jumped a massive 27.3pts). With a post-bye average of 111.8 in 2018 and a last seven-game average of 117.3, Steele is looking to add line-breaking run and distribution to his run-with role (ranked 5th in tackles per game). He is the consummate professional who has a low profile outside the boundaries of the club. Watch this space, I’m telling you!
There’s no doubting that Dan Hannebery ($326,100) has been an elite-SC performer in times gone by, but his decline has been sharp. Physically he hasn’t been right for over 18 months with persistent soft tissue injuries (hamstrings, calf and groin), but he returned to training two weeks early and has been a huge positive around the club. However, complaining of tightness in his hamstrings during St Kilda’s last session before the Christmas break, he has to be a ‘watch and act’ despite scans showing no damage. He is being managed to peak for Round 1. If all goes well, he has to be considered as a mid-price starter, but there are obviously associated risks. He remains on a modified training program (16th Jan).
Dubbed the new Jack Steven, Doulton Langlands ($123,900, MID/FWD) impressed on the wing and at half-forward last year at VFL-level; he’s a two-way runner with elite endurance. There is some talk of a debut in Rd 1 and with his DPP status, he has to be one to consider if there is a shortage of decent Cows in the forward line. Jack Bytel ($117,300) is a pure inside-midfielder (selected in this year’s draft at pick 41), but remains on a modified program as he continues his recovery from a bulged disc. Considered a risky pick even though the Tigers also had an eye on him, due to past stress fractures in his back and now the bulged disc, if the Saints can get his body right the 19-year old is AFL-ready in terms of size and his game [UPDATE: the Saints are being ultra-cautious with Bytel and he is almost certain to not figure in selections for either the JLT series or the early rounds of 2019 proper, 16th Jan]. Nick Hind ($117,300) is another mature-aged rookie who played a match-winning role off half-back for the Bombers in the VFL finals in 2018 (ave. 21.7 disposals over 20 games) and is also AFL-ready. While disappointing not to see him given DEF/MID positional status, the 54th draft pick could be given an early opportunity with his explosive acceleration off half-back or a wing.
Billy Longer ($260,900) has to be considered as a genuine starter for those willing to pick only one (or none) of Grundy and/or Gawn. With competition only from Pierce now that Hickey’s gone west, if he has a full pre-season the former #8 draft pick at 202cm and 105kg can be expected to average a minimum of 70, with 80+ more realistic. He averaged 78 from 17 games in 2017, including five 100+ scores. Now with a couple more pre-seasons into him, there’s possibly decent points and cash generation here that could provide the perfect stepping-stone to an elite RUC in the run-up to the byes.
There’s been a lot of talk in this off-season about Jade Gresham ($429,600) being on the cusp of more midfield-time and a breakout season in the offing for 2019. But he’s still only 21 and showed big enough improvement last year that I see 2019 more as a year of consolidation for ‘Gresh’, with increased mid-time less likely with Hanners’ arrival. That said, he did post five 110+ scores from Rd 10 onwards and if Hanners goes down early, or worse doesn’t even get up(!), all bets are off. Jack Billings ($437,600) will be on the ‘never again’ list of many SCTers, after his underwhelming output in 2018. But this was due more to Richo’s persistence in playing him up forward, particularly in the first half of the season. He has put his hand up for more mid-time in 2019 and has shown up in superb nick (cliché?) There are positive signs that some SCTers may have been a year early on the former #3 draft pick. After being dropped to the VFL and posting monster numbers that week for Sandringham, he returned to the AFL side and averaged 96.1 in his next 9 games (with three 100+ scores including a 125 in Rd17). Priced at an ave. of 80.6, is 2019 the year Jack finally goes ‘pop’? I certainly hope so.
My last consideration is certainly left-field and comes with definite risk, but the speedy, high-pressure forward Dean Kent ($278,800) has potential for serious upside. He had many injuries throughout his time as a Demon, but is now back in full training (16th Jan) after post-season shoulder surgery and his price belies some impressive performances in 2018. He is heavily discounted (20%) as he only played five games last year and two of those outputs were seriously injury-effected; namely a 28 (in just over a quarter of footy) and a 2 (after only four minutes on the park). He averaged 97 in his other three games with 100+ scores in his first two games of the season and is priced at a 51.4 average. While I am not predicting consistently lofty scores, hi s game style suits the Saints and I see him as a constant presence in the Saints best XXII, should he be ready for Rd1. He ticks a lot of the ‘potential money-maker’ boxes and could provide points and cash generation to an elite FWD in what is traditionally a poor line for rookies. Time is also an invaluable commodity in identifying emerging premiums in the FWD line and starting a mid-pricer gives you just that. Time.
Matt Parker ($117,300) is another ready-made mature-age rookie, who stepped up in the absence of one Tim Kelly at South Fremantle in 2018. Booted 27 goals in 20 games, averaging 13 disposals and three marks per game. He’s quick, a strong mark and tackler who will provide real pressure for the Saints. Likely to debut at some point in 2019 but when, it is still too early to tell. If he starts, lock him in!
A team-mate of Callum Wilkie at SANFL premiers North Adelaide, Robert Young ($117,300) provided consistent X-factor in the forward six in 2018 and can cause serious damage if given time and space. Another mature-ager at pick 47 in this year’s draft, Young could provide the Saints lighter forward line with another much-needed battle-hardened body. Richo reckons both Parker and Young’s game styles are made for Marvel Stadium. We’ll see.
I have not mentioned the Saints top draft pick Max King ($193,800) as he is a long way off a debut while he continues his recovery from a knee reco. Mid-season at the earliest is the current time-line, but as a KPP and still so young, I doubt he’ll be relevant for SC in 2019 anyway.
Whilst it could be another dire year for the Saints (fed up with thinking we’ll improve), there could be a few ready-to-go rookie debutants at the Saints this year which is good news for SCTers. If their debuts are evenly spread, then all the better. Matt Parker for mine, will likely be the best SC-wise of the Saints’ rookies crop. The added pressure these mature-age recruits bring to the Saints established playing group can only be a positive for the Saints after a woeful 2018.
The appointment of Andrew Bassat (founder of SEEK) as President of St Kilda Football Club is a very positive sign for our long-term future, as the recruitment of successful coaching talent proves; Ratten, Lade, ‘Gubby’ Allen and Billy Slater coming on board is just the start of a long-term plan to compete with the best. It’s a long road, but early signs are good
Not the emoji you were expecting Thommo?!
I will update this thread as and when there is any news that is particularly SC-relevant.
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