A spot in the finals is on the line for St. Kilda this weekend as they travel to Cairns to take on the Adelaide Crows.
The Saints showed good signs of improvement last week in their nine-point loss to Sydney last week, but if they lose this week they will fall to five wins and eight losses, and with a low percentage they will almost certainly miss the finals.
Coach Brett Ratten isn’t buying into that discussion, insisting that if they can play out the four quarters the results will come.
“It’s about the process, we really focused on a four-quarter performance last week, we didn’t quite get that but we were a big step closer than where we were previously and for us that’s really what it is about,” he said.
“Our consistency has been up and down throughout the season, but it’s not really been up and down from week to week but from quarter to quarter and that’s where we have been hurt at times.”
“That’s what we have to focus on because we can’t give up leads or chase down if we’re giving up five to six goals in a small period of the game.”
The clubs mounting injury crisis isn’t helping their push for finals either.
There were reports early in the week that suggested the Saints wouldn’t be able to fill out their emergencies, however Ratten has confirmed they will be able to fill a full 26-man squad.
Mason Wood trained strongly after being subbed out of last week’s encounter with a hamstring injury and will take his spot in the team.
Skipper Jarryn Geary won’t be available for selection as he rehabilitates his shoulder with the hope of avoiding surgery.
While Tim Membrey and Seb Ross will also miss, after they went back to Victoria early in the week to be with their young families.
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Young spearhead Max King also looks set to play after nursing a back injury he suffered at training before the Swans game.
“He should be right to go,” Ratten said.
“But if he is sore and stiff, we will take him out but everything looks pretty positive.”
Ratten was pleased with the way King fought through his injury last week, playing his role for the team.
“It was really encouraging because he is going to play a lot of football and he isn’t going to feel 100% every week, so for him to work through that was a good one for him mentally,” he said.
“He’s a player that is going to keep getting himself to good spots and giving himself a chance and really on the weekend it will be how many contests can he influence.”
“He doesn’t have to mark the ball he just has to keep making sure he can get to as many contests as he can, and I think then he can influence the game.”
While there is lots of external pressure on the young spearhead Ratten believes there is no harsher critic than King himself.
“I think probably for himself he has very high standards, he wants to make sure he is the best every week so he can play and perform at the level that he is after,” he aid
“I think he does put a fair bit of pressure on himself, but he is working with people here to make sure we get that balance right.”
“It is a high performing industry; you’re a professional athlete and you want to perform but I think you can get the balance wrong and I think every player has these challenges about making sure it a balance approach.”
Inaccurate goal kicking has also been the topic of the Saints last month and after Jack Higgins booted one goal six behinds last week, the sharp focus continued.
Ratten said they haven’t done anything abnormal over the past week and that goalkicking had been a focus for his team over the past month.
“We’ve put it in between drills, before training, post training, even on days off for players to come down and have a kick,” he said.
“The bit that was noticeable with our goalkicking was you watch on a Tuesday or Thursday and the player goes through the routine of kicking the goal and then on game day he forgets about the 30 seconds and their rushed or they play on, and they don’t go through that routine.”
“You’ve got a routine there make sure you go and fulfill that and take your 15 seconds or your seven steps and follow through, but sometimes we’re not doing that, and I think that is the thing that is hurting us.”
The Saints will be hopeful that stirring win against the Crows can jumpstart the remainder of the season.