MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 20: Jack Billings of the Saints is tackled by Kane Lambert of the Tigers during the 2016 AFL Round 22 match between the Richmond Tigers and the St Kilda Saints at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on August 20, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Adam Trafford/AFL Media/Getty Images)

St Kilda coach Alan Richardson has backed Jack Billings to justify his high draft pick this season.

The 21-year-old was taken with pick three in the 2013 draft, one spot ahead of Western Bulldogs star Marcus Bontempelli.

Since then the two players have had drastically different fortunes. Bontempelli has risen to be one of the best players in the competition, while Billings has struggled with injuries.

Richardson told SEN Breakfast that Billings is prepared for a breakout season.

“When we go to the draft, there is something that we want and Jack Billings will become that player for us,”Richadson said.

“I think he’s heading in the right way…He hasn’t quite had the prep that he’d like in terms of training…from our perspective he has had a couple of injuries that he has had to overcome and that’s important for a young bloke, to be able to get some continuity in their training.

“He has just been outstanding for us in pre-season. The games are the ultimate test but we think he is tracking the right way. Really excited about Jack and what he is going to be for our team.”

Richardson also ran through the process the club went through to appoint it’s leadership group.

“We initially voted on our leadership group, that’s a player vote,” Richardson told SEN Breakfast.

“From there, we ended up with eight (players). If there is eight that are quite dominant in terms of voting and there’s bit of a gap, we’ll have had eight. Had there been six, we would have stopped there.

“That group, plus the three boys that snip out, Joey (Leigh Montagna), Rooey (Nick Riewoldt) and Sean Dempster, got together and had a chat about who should lead the team.”