Team: St Kilda
Coach: Scott Watters
Delisted: Jason Gram, Warrick Andreoli, Raph Clarke, Nicholas Winmar, Sam Crocker, Dean Polo, Daniel Archer, Brett Peake
Traded: Jamie Cripps (West Coast Eagles)
Free Agency: Brendon Goddard (Essendon)
Traded: Tom Lee (Pre-Listed GWS Player, Claremont), Tom Hickey (Gold Coast), Trent Dennis-Lane (Sydney Swans)
Free Agency: None
Delisted Free Agency: Dylan Roberton (Fremantle)
National Draft: Nathan Wright, Spencer White, Brodie Murdoch, Josh Saunders, Lewis Pierce, Sam Dunell (promoted rookie)
Rookie Draft: None
Pre-season Draft: None
Last Year’s Finish: 9th (12-10-0)
This year’s prediction: 8th-10th
2013 will be hard to predict for St Kilda with all signs pointing directly to them to continue to drop down the AFL ladder. However, if everything goes according to plan, The Saints could be playing finals football come September.
Three things you need to know:
1. St Kilda will play the first official AFL match outside of Australia on ANZAC Day against reigning premiers Sydney at Wellington’s Westpac Stadium, New Zealand.
2. Mark Round 4, St Kilda v Essendon [Saturday April 20] down in your calendar as must watch game! This will be the first time former Saints star; Brendon Goddard comes up against his old side since he walked out on them during the 2012 Free Agency period.
3. Despite turning over half their list in last two years, St Kilda are still the second oldest and fifth most experienced list in The AFL.
Will make the finals if/will be doomed if:
If St Kilda is to play finals, then their second and third tier players need to step up and take some pressure off the ageing stars, in particular Hayes, Milne, Riewoldt and Fisher.
This means likes of Jack Steven, David Armitage, Ben McEvoy, James Gwilt, Arryn Siposs, Rhys Stanley and Tom Simpkin all need to play 20 to 22 games each in 2013 and finish in top 5-10 of Saints Best and Fairest.
The Saints have had to heavily rely on players such as Hayes, Milne, Riewoldt, Fisher and Dal Santo in the past couple years, but at their age the game can fly past them at any minute. This means if the younger guys don’t step up, it could be a long year for St Kilda.
Dual All Australian and small forward, Stephen Milne, has been the Saints most consistent and reliable goal kicker during his career with an average of 46 goals per season. Milne is showing no signs of slowing down and along with his new partner in crime, Ahmed Saad, he is looking likely to have another great year.
Despite coming off a serious knee injury and playing year with heart issue, Lenny Hayes had arguably had his greatest season in 2012 and went on to win St Kilda’s Best and Fairest. In what could be his final year, Lenny will be looking to continue his recent good form.
Sean Dempster has long been known as the “steak-knives” in a trade that netted St Kilda’s Adam Schneider from Sydney, but these days is one of first pick for the Saints. Dempster has finished third in the club’s last two Best and Fairest along with wining Most Professional Player Award for two consecutive seasons. In 2012, Dempster was named in the back pocket in The All Australian side after outstanding season. He can play on either small or tall forwards, can run with midfield, or as he showed last season, can be an important intercept and link player.
Player on the rise:
Rhys Stanley has teased St Kilda for the last few years but it’s injuries in which keep setting him back. If [fingers cross] Stanley can have injury free season, he is sure to feature prominently in Saints line-up. He has ability to play forward, in the ruck and could be groomed as tall defender, which the club has been looking for.
Player on the way down:
Justin Koschitzke faces a tough task to keep his spot in Saints best 22 in 2013, after St Kida added some much needed depth to their tall forward stocks in trade period. Koschitzke could battle it out with Stanley, Beau Maister, Thomas Lee and potentially Tom Hickey and Ben McEvoy if they decide to play two ruckman this year. Koschitzke hasn’t found himself having to fight for his position very often; mainly due to lack of talls on The Saints list, but they will be hoping it will get best out of him.
In 2012, St Kilda averaged 106.7 points a game, being 22.4 more than under previous coach Ross Lyon. The problem they encountered however was they leaked goals too easily, averaging 86.5 points a game against (up 11 from 2011). This was due to their key forwards being able to get on top of their backline. The absence of a key defender could well again prove costly for the Saints.
St Kilda could have one quickest and most exciting forward lines in 2013, if the early stages of pre-season are anything to go by. Stephen Milne, Ahmed Saad, Terry Milera and Trent Dennis-Lane (otherwise known as the ‘mosquito fleet’) will cause much headaches for opposition defenders. Whether there is room for all four of them in the one team, is entirely another question!