AFL 4 years ago

Saints Summary: R22

  • Saints Summary: R22

Fisher must be retained

There has not been much to take away from St Kilda’s past few games. The team has been a virtual lock to finish last since plunging to the cellar in Round 13, and save for a few strong individual performances here and there, it’s been difficult to make definitive assessments about the side going forward apart from....

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One thing that has been made abundantly clear in recent weeks, however, is that Sam Fisher must be retained for a 12th season. The veteran defender has played the last six games after missing more than 12 months through a variety of injuries, and his presence has irrefutably added composure and guile to the backline. While he may have lost a step in the past year or two, there remain few defenders in the competition who read the play better than Fisher. That is an intangible that cannot be taught, but it remains invaluable in a team that will almost certainly struggle for a few years to come.

Fisher has been vocal in his push for a new contract, but St Kilda head of football Chris Pelchen and coach Alan Richardson are yet to show their hand, saying only that list management decisions will not be made until season’s end.

Fisher will finish this season on 198 games. It would be an absolute travesty, and a mistake, if he did not reach 200 in the red, white and black in 2015.

Veterans shining through, again

While the media may tell you otherwise, Fisher’s return to the side in recent weeks has helped give the team as mature a look as it’s had all season. In fact, the team that tackled Richmond featured a season-high nine players that featured in St Kilda’s last grand final in 2010 (Dempster, Fisher, Gilbert, Hayes, Jones, Montagna, Ray, Riewoldt and Schneider).

The addition of veterans including Gilbert, Schneider and Fisher has not brought about an upturn in terms of results, but their presence has shone a light on an issue that’s been pretty evident all season: our youngsters, with a couple of exceptions, are yet to take the bulk of the load off their senior teammates.

Take this weekend’s game, for example. St Kilda’s five leading possession winners were Armitage, Riewoldt, Steven, Montagna and Ray. The Trevor Barker Award will almost certainly be won by either Riewoldt or Lenny Hayes, and the top 10 is unlikely to feature many, if any, players on which the club is pinning its long-term hopes.

A broader discussion on St Kilda’s youngsters belongs in another post, which will come sometime after next week’s final game. But it’s been a little disappointing that, Jack Newnes aside, none of the younger players have developed any sort of tangible consistency this season.

Alan Richardson addressed the issue to some degree in his post-match presser, saying the side probably has “10 young blokes that don't believe in themselves”. That he’s aware of the issue is one critical factor. Whether he’s able to instil that belief will ultimately make or break his coaching tenure at Seaford.

Stanley and consistency don’t mix

Rhys Stanley seems destined to perennially mock Saints fans by interspersing a handful of dominant performances in amongst a whole lot of mediocrity. The big man was mercifully subbed out against Richmond after managing just five possessions, four marks and zero goals. It was the fourth time this year that Stanley has had six possessions or fewer, and his return of just 17 goals in 18 games is, again, not good enough for someone who spends much of his time as a key forward.

In the four games since that performance against Fremantle, during which he hauled in 14 marks and kicked three goals, Stanley has taken a grand total of 19 marks and booted four goals. He also had 13 hit-outs against the Dockers. In the four games since? 19 taps.

The forward-cum-ruck will continue to be given opportunities as captain Nick Riewoldt spends more time up the field, perhaps increasingly in tandem with Spencer White. But any talk of Rhys Stanley finally finding consistency should be put to rest.

HAVE YOUR SAY: What were your takeaways from St Kilda’s game against Richmond? Should the club retain Fisher? What are your thoughts on Rhys Stanley? Which of St Kilda’s youngsters excite you most?


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