13/04/2024

Jarrod Lienert is ready for his next opportunity at AFL level with the Saints (PHOTO: Rowey's Sport show & St.Kilda Twitter)

Jarrod Lienert is ready to grab his second opportunity at AFL level with both hands at the Saints after a move from Alberton Oval.

At the end of the 2021 season, Jarrod Lienert’s career hopes took an unfortunate turn.

Lienert managed 23 games for the Port Adelaide Power, with only five of those coming in his last season. He was subsequently delisted by the Power and elected to return to his former SANFL club, Sturt, for his footy.

Then the Saints came marching in.

Lienert’s former coach at Sturt, Marty Mattner, believed he was always capable of being on an AFL list. Speaking to The Inner Sanctum, he said, “I’d always been on the lines that I thought he was going to get picked up at some stage in the draft.”

“We (Sturt) were along the lines that if it wasn’t now, it was probably going to be in the mid-season one.”

“When he wasn’t drafted…we were very pleased but I had it in the back of my mind that he was probably going to be somewhere else.”

Lienert also chatted to The Inner Sanctum about his aspirations to return to the AFL upon his delisting, saying “Over the last few months at Sturt, I’ve really enjoyed that but in the back of my mind… I still felt like I had a lot to give at AFL level.”

“I did a couple interviews when I first got delisted and I did speak about getting back into the AFL and that being my sole aspiration.”

“To be given the opportunity is so good. I’ve been loving it over here in Melbourne and being around the club.”

“It’s made it heaps easier to fit in with how welcoming the club has been.”

The defender reportedly received interest from a few clubs before deciding on training with the Saints in hopes of a list spot.

Known for his powerful right boot, the Saints selected Lienert in the SSP in hopes that he can provide the defensive effort that had him in the Power side in the back end of last year.

He was selected for the Saints along with former Woodville West-Torrens player Jack Hayes, with the club seemingly having a soft spot for SANFL representatives.

Fellow key defender Callum Wilkie was also picked up by St.Kilda as a mature aged recruit from the league, while Tom Highmore joined from South Adelaide.

“A lot of people have said that to me when I first got drafted there, saying ‘Gee they love a SANFL mature aged player’.”, said Lienert on the Saints recruiting tactics.

“I obviously haven’t played a lot of VFL or WAFL obviously but the SANFL does seem to be the premier second tier comp in Australia so it doesn’t surprise me that a lot of guys have been picked up from there.”

“It was really good for me personally to have a few SA guys around the club to make me really comfortable even before I walked through the doors.”

Former Power defender Dougal Howard also calls the Saints home and has previously shared the field with Lienert from 2017 through to 2019, with the two remaining close friends.

“I stayed with him over the three weeks of my trial…we couldn’t get along much better.”

“Doug was the first person I called when I got the call from James Gallagher that I’d be coming over and it was nice living it up with him in Brighton for a few weeks.”

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Mattner’s experience with Lienert was similar to many of the scouting reports. “He’s a very good kick and he reads the play well and intercepts” said Mattner of his former player.

“He was more a wingman when he was playing with us in 2016… he’s evolved into that second or third tall defender which is really good.”

Lienert averaged 4.6 rebound 50’s a game in his last season, showing that his elite kicking and ability to break lines out of defence can prove to be a powerful asset.

Lienert has also averaged over 17 disposals in his AFL career, including 31 against his current side in 2019. In that game he also had 11 rebound 50’s and six 1%ers.

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Lienert in action for the Power’s SANFL side (PHOTO: Port Adelaide Twitter)

According to Mattner, Lienert was unlucky to fall out of the team before the finals last season.

“He’s a ready made footballer. He can play league footy and AFL footy and we saw that last year with Port.”

“I’ve noticed in his last two months with us… his leadership is really good for our group in terms of training standards but also teaching the younger guys the craft because he’s been in that AFL system.”

“He’s doing his teaching background as well so he’s really passionate about that coaching side of things”

Lienert had been on the list since 2017, having a hand in a minor premiership and preliminary final in 2020 and another preliminary final in 2021.

Lienert spoke on his exit from the Power saying, “I was disappointed definitely. I loved my five years at Port and have a lot of great mates there and love the club.”

“I was a little bit surprised and I felt like I still had a really good role at the club”

“At the same time I can understand that they have a lot of good young half-backs coming through and I suppose by getting me out of there, it can allow for guys like Lachie Jones and Miles Bergman to get a lot more opportunity.”

Lienert’s experience with finals success will prove crucial to the Saints aspirations, as a large majority of their list has limited finals experience. The Saints tasted finals victory in 2020, but only progressed to the semi finals before being eliminated by the Tigers.

When Lienert finishes up his AFL career, Mattner hopes he’ll return to play for the club he started at, stating, “I’d love to see Jarrod keep playing for another five years but if that doesn’t work out, I’d love for him to come back to Sturt. Either way I’ll be happy.”

The Saints open their season Friday night at Marvel Stadium against the Magpies.

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