13/04/2024

Zaine Cordy has signed for the Saints for season 2023 (Graphic: Will Cuckson)

The Saints have secured some much-needed defensive depth with the signing of Bulldogs free agent Zaine Cordy on Wednesday.

Cordy joins key defenders Callum Wilkie and Dougal Howard in the Saints backline for season 2023, as they look to improve on a disappointing end of 2022, where they missed finals.

The Saints placed an emphasis on recruiting a key defender in the off-season, after their restricted backline stocks were even further compounded after delisting Darragh Joyce.

While Liam Jones was also high on the Saints target list, Cordy was brought to the Saints after the former was signed to the Bulldogs and seemingly pushed Cordy out of the starting 22.

A major reason behind the Saints late-season capitulation came from the backline, where Wilkie was forced to lead an undersized unit after the impacts of an injury to Howard in round 16 weren’t properly accounted for, with a lack of depth in the key defensive positions.

The acquisition can allow Howard to play off his man and away from one-on-one contests, a playing style that is much more suited to him than the lockdown roles he was forced to play last season.

Cordy looks set to shore up the Saints in the backline (Photo: Western Bulldogs)

With Cordy moving into the backline and playing a purely defensive role, the rise of Jack Sinclair off the half back can become even greater, with the increased defensive presence resulting in even less of an emphasis on him having to directly defend his opponents.

Cordy measures in at 195cm and is sure to be tasked with taking on the second key tall from the oppositions forward line, as Wilkie can lock down on the first option.

Wilkie has more than proven his capability in locking down his direct opponent as he earned himself an All Australian squad nomination in 2022, meaning Cordy will not need to take on the most damaging opponent.

This will mean he can take on a similar role to his previous one with the Bulldogs, where Alex Keath or Ryan Gardner claimed the most damaging opponents and left Cordy to work on the second or third tall.

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The Saints conceded the sixth most marks per game last season, with the introduction of Cordy looking to help improve the side in aerial contests.

Cordy averages 4.6 spoils a game over his career, with his height and significant strength when the ball is over head proving advantageous against his direct opposition.

He is also a great tackler for his position, averaging two tackles a game, proving his capability when the ball hits the ground.

Cordy bears many similarities to current Saints utility Josh Battle, who was deployed across the backline at various times throughout last season to try and assist against the taller forwards.

Bringing Cordy into the backline means that Battle can be sent further up the ground and provide a marking target in the forward half, another area where the Saints struggled in 2022.

Moving Battle up the ground can assist Max King, with the potential to drag opponents away from the 202cm forward and allow him greater freedom in aerial contests.

Cordy himself can be thrown around the ground when required, as he has shown when he played as a forward in the Bulldogs premiership year.

While the Saints premiership window begins to close, Cordy is another solid defensive option that can ease the sides depth issues and provide necessary foil for the competition’s damaging forward lines.

The signing of Cordy is certainly one of necessity for the Saints, and is just one of a few holes that will look to be filled by the end of the free agency and trade periods if the Saints are serious about aiming for their second ever flag in the coming season.

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