14/04/2024

The Saints are getting a well- timed injury boost ahead of its clash with Brisbane. PHOTO: St. Kilda Football Club - Twitter

The Saints tackle the Lions on Saturday night with Brett Ratten stating the club is set to welcome back gun midfielder, Zak Jones.

St Kilda is slowly having an upturn in form. Back-to-back wins over Richmond and Collingwood have the Saints sitting in 11th position on the ladder, just two points outside the top eight.

Coach Brett Ratten spoke to the media this morning and despite young key forward Max King hardly being sighted at training this week, Ratten said he will take his place against the Lions.

“Max just had a lighter week,” Ratten said.

“He has had a fair workload and he’s still quite young in his career, so a bit like Steeley [Jack Steele] last week.

“We looked after him and gave him time off. He did a little bit but not a heap so just looking after him. He will play.”

The Saints are currently on a two-game win streak after an impressive victory over Richmond and followed that up with a win over Collingwood. Ratten feels the side is starting to build some momentum and that starts on the training track.

“I think our training habits have improved,” Ratten said.

“There’s no doubt about it and that has transferred to better performances for longer but that’s our challenge, its consistency. 

“We get [Zak] Jones back this week which will be great, he’s eager to go and wanted to play last week, he wasn’t quite ready, but he’s done all the work.

“So we are getting a couple of quality players back as well.”

With Zak Jones coming back into the AFL side this week, another prized recruit in Dan Hannebery is set to make his long-awaited return from injury.

“He will play VFL this week, which is great,” Ratten said.

“He has been very patient, and it has been a bit of a long road for him. He will play roughly 70 per cent game time down there.

“He usually does, in the AFL, around 80 to 82 [per cent game time] so he’s done a great job and it will be good to get him back.

“He will play at least a couple [games in the VFL] and then we will make an assessment. I think his GPS [numbers] and things like that, how he pulls up, that will be in the conversation as well.”

The Saints final quarter fade-outs have been a concern all season. Losing to the Adelaide Crows by a solitary goal while hanging on against a late Collingwood charge, it is something Ratten has said needs to be fixed.

“We talked about the momentum. Whether it was thinking we’ve got the game under control and that because of the margin,” Ratten said. 

“Our long down the line plays [against Collingwood], I think we had 12 in the first three quarters, won eight, lost four, and in the last, we had seven and lost the whole seven. 

“So it’s around the contest and maybe going into our shell a little bit. But we have had a chat about it and it’s something we need to address. Not go over the top but what is our mindset when we are in this phase.

“Against Richmond, we got to control the ball. We had 51 uncontested marks but, on the weekend, we didn’t control the footy at all. We just played back to them, and we didn’t defend that well so yeah it was a talking point.”

The events of the last 48-hours regarding Alastair Clarkson and the Hawthorn Football Club have dominated the media landscape.

Ratten was asked about the situation at Waverley and he was not surprised at what took place.

“I’m not surprised by anything in footy really,” Ratten said.

“But I do know that Alastair Clarkson has been an amazing coach. He’s had some real influence on me as a coach and spending six years with him, not just him but Chris Fagan as well.

“Yeah, it’s a changing of the guard and changing in the times. We’ve seen it happen with other coaches and the baton gets handed over.

“But I hope people think about Al [Clarkson] and what he has done for the game and what he has done as a footy coach is absolutely amazing.”

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The Lions are up next for the Saints on Saturday night. It presents a chance for St Kilda to test themselves against one of the top teams in the competition. However, Ratten knows what his side must do if they are to take the four points off the Lions.

“Yeah they had a couple of close games at the start of the year with Geelong and Collingwood, won by a kick in it both ways,” Ratten said.

“But their form has been really solid and I suppose the way they are going with their attack with [Joe] Daniher up there and their potency. They are really taking ground quickly and moving the ball fast.

“So that’s going to challenge our team defence and that’s what we are going to have to stop and that’s where the game is at.”

With Alastair Clarkson seemingly now on the market for other clubs to chase, Ratten believes that the current Hawks coach will be highly sought after, while stating that coaches around the league will be nervous that Clarkson is now gettable.

“That’s the nature of the game, you’ve got to perform,” Ratten said.

“The game is brutal whether you are the coach, player and it’s a business in a way. So you have to make these decisions for your football club. 

“If he’s out there I think clubs will start to talk about whether they employ him or not and fair enough too.”

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