In the lead up to the 2017 season, we will be assessing each club’s list and naming our best 22 for round one. Working our way up the ladder; following the analysis of Port Adelaide, the next cab off the rank is St Kilda.
Zero Hanger 2017 ladder prediction: 10th
Last season was a fantastic year for the St Kilda football club. The Saints doubled their win total from the season before, many of their young players stepped up to the next level and they just missed out on finals if not for percentage.
In the off-season the Saints headhunted some depth players in Nathan Brown and Koby Stevens, as well as Jack Steele, who will strengthen the midfield when he is fit. Can the Saints make finals for the first time since 2011? or will 2017 be one year too many for their ageing stars?
The Saints have a plethora of emerging and established forwards to choose from. Tim Membrey was a revelation in 2016, kicking 44 goals in his 17 games. Josh Bruce was slightly down on his 2015 form but was still a terrific contributor. Every year a new St Kilda key forward pops up to star in the forward line, hopefully in 2017 Paddy McCartin can get over his concussion problems and follow that trend.
In the Scott Watters-Alan Richardson era, the Saints have been forced to blood a lot of youngsters to regenerate the list and it’s starting to pay off. There are several players who joined the club seeking more game time that still remain in the best 22. Dylan Roberton, Mav Weller, Tim Membrey and Shane Savage were all struggling for games at their respective clubs and have been turned into solid players for the Saints. Add to that the numerous first and second round draft picks they have coming through and there is terrific depth at the club.
2016 was a fantastic season, but much of it’s success was on the back of the Saints ageing stars. By the end of 2015, Nick Riewoldt looked completely shot, in 2016 he miraculously managed to turn back the clock, putting in an amazing year averaging 21 disposals, 11 marks and two goals. The 34-year-old cannot be expected to repeat those numbers in 2017. The same applies for Leigh Montagna (33) and Sean Dempster (33) who both had terrific seasons. The Saints need a new brigade of players to take over as the stars of St Kilda.
The midfield really works well as a unit, but since the departure of Dal Santo, Goddard and Hayes, only Steven has launched himself into being one of the stars of the AFL. There are a number of players including: Newnes, Billings, Dunstan, Acres and Ross who are capable of making that step up to being an elite midfielder, Alan Richardson will need someone to if the Saints are going to play finals in 2017.
Projected St Kilda 2017 round one best 22:
HB: Dylan Roberton, Sean Dempster, Shane Savage
HF: Jack Billings, Nick Riewoldt, Mav Weller
FF: Jade Gresham, Josh Bruce, Tim Membrey
Not considered: Jack Steele (foot), Hugh Goddard (achilles).