Unlucky not to have a trophy in their cabinet from the last few years, the Saints have (in the past) been a reliable team from which we could safely pick Dream Team stars for our teams. All of this changed in 2011. With the photo scandal; the ongoing schoolgirl saga; a long term injury to their star player; and Ross Lyon’s anti-DT game plan – the stars did not align for the St Kilda football club. However with a new coach and a renewed faith in each other, expect things to improve in 2012. With so many changes, the question on the lips of many will be: is the premiership window still open?
Whilst the early calls are that they will slide in the new season, the St Kilda camp are buoyed with a new confidence; and with a drama free offseason they will look to prove their critics wrong in 2012 like Geelong did last year. New coach Scott Watters should bring a more DT friendly, faster style of play to the table – meaning many of our fallen stars from 2011 should once again rise from the ashes to become DT stars again. Read on to find out who will fire in 2012.
Possible Best 22
B: Gilbert, Wilkes, Clarke
HB: Goddard, Fisher, Polo
C: Steven, Dal Santo, Montagna
HF: Peake, Riewoldt, Gram
F: Milne, Koschitzke, Schneider
Foll: McEvoy, Hayes, Jones
Int: Blake, Armitage, Ray, Dempster
Em: Siposs, Geary, Simpkin
Fringe Players – Gwilt, Stanley, Winmar, Crocker, Cripps, Archer, Ledger, Webster
DT Relevant Rookies – Wilkes, Markworth, Saad, Milera, Ross, Newnes, Lever, Newnes, Ross, Andreoli
Recently Retired – Gardiner
Delisted – McQualter, Gamble, Heyne, Cahill, Johnson, Eddy, Baker
Traded – Walsh, Lynch
2012 Draw & Byes
The Saints have a fairly favourable draw this year. They only play 2 top 8 teams from 2011 twice (Carlton and Sydney) whilst also doubling up against Melbourne, the Bulldogs and 2011 whipping boys Gold Coast. Their start to the year is particularly interesting, playing the Power, Suns, Dogs, Freo and Demons to open the season, whilst also playing Richmond, Adelaide and the Suns (again) before the bye. This will mean that we should see some big scores in the early part of the season from the Red, White and Black. Another favourable thing is that they only have to travel interstate 6 times in 2012, playing in Melbourne from rounds 2-7 as well as their final 5 games for the year. This should allow plenty of time for the team to get settled and put together some decent form between games during those periods.
St Kilda shares the bye with the Blues, Hawks, Tigers, Power and Suns in 2012. This will mean coaches will have to tread carefully when selecting Saints players in their team. For those wanting both Goddard and Fisher in the backline, think twice then about Deledio and Suckling as they will all be out in what looms as a miserable week for Dream Teamers everywhere. Similarly, watch out when picking stars like Montagna, Hayes, Dal Santo and Riewoldt as they will be joined on the sidelines in week 13 by other AFL stars like Ablett, Murphy, Judd, Franklin and Martin.
Brendan Goddard – DEF – $474,200 – 2011 avg – 95.9 (22 games)
After a poor start to the year where he fell to around $325k at one point, God finished the year strongly to be the 3rd best defender overall (behind my boy Bryce Gibbs and teammate Heath Scotland) and will start 2012 as the 2nd most expensive backman. Fortunately for us, last year was disappointing by Goddard’s high standards; and he will be looking to improve his average closer to his 2010 average of 113 in the new season. He is consistent, durable and has a high ceiling plus has a favourable draw – what’s not to like?
Verdict: Capable of great feats and startling consistency; this guy should be your first lock in your backline and is a definite must have in 2012.
Expected average for 2012: 110
Sam Fisher – DEF – $415,500 – 2011 avg – 84 (22 games)
A classic rebounding defender; and a best & fairest/All-Australian player – Fisher has been St Kilda’s most reliable defender for the last 5 years. Equally adept at shutting down the play as he is at creating it, Fish has been extremely consistent and durable dating back to his breakout year in 2006. Whilst he is turning 30 this year, he isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. In a year where the Saints should bounce back DT wise, expect his numbers to rise again up to a 90 average.
- Has only missed 6 games in7 years since 2005
- Has average 85+ in every year since 2007
- Still averaged 84 in a disappointing year for the Saints
- Scored over 85 ppg a reliable 14 times in his 22 H&A appearances in 2011
Verdict: As durable as they come, with a consistent scoring rate; Fisher is a reliable pick in your defence alongside Goddard and Deledio.
Expected average for 2012: 90
Nick Dal Santo – MID – $512,400 – 2011 avg – 103.6 (22 games)
Nicky Dal had arguably his best year of both AFL football and DT in 2011. Another one of the Saint’s seemingly evergreen ageing stars, NDS showed himself to be the Saints most valuable player. Like both Goddard and Fisher, Dal Santo has durability embedded into his blood, only missing 3 games in the last 8 years! He has a huge ceiling – when he is on, he can rack them up like nobody (39 d, 7 m, 6 tk and 1.0 v GC in rnd 19 = 154 points). Whilst he is fairly consistent, Dal Santo is susceptible to a hard tag every now and then resulting in at times ugly scores (51 v Hawks in round 8). But if you can put up with the odd bad score, he is again likely to be the best midfield option at the Saints in 2012.
Verdict: Based on durability and scoring ability, you can’t go wrong with NDS. And with the Saints great draw this year, don’t expect him to drop off at all.
Expected average for 2012: 105
Leigh Montagna – MID – $485,000 – 2011 avg – 98 (20 games)
Ahhh Joey… After a sizzling 2009 and 2010 that saw him average 116 and 112 respectfully, many coaches picked him up last year as a reliable option in their midfield. Unfortunately, we weren’t to know what kind of carnage was about to happen. Still managing 20 games at an average of 98, Montagna was frustrating at times and definitely did not live up to previous expectations. However like Goddard, we are fortunate that this was mainly attributed to the St Kilda football club and not purely his form or injury. This means that with an improved, more DT friendly playing style, we should be able to see a better, more consistent output from Joey in 2012.
Verdict: Presents great value if he can return to his previous heights of 2009/10. At his price, Montagna has minimum risk and is a slightly cheaper option for your midfield.
Expected average for 2012: 105
Ben McEvoy – RUC – $447,500 – 2011 avg – 90.5 (21 games)
Heading into his 5th year in 2012, the Big Ben is ready to explode into a DT gun. Already enjoying a breakout year in 2011, he relished the additional time in the middle without now retired ruckman Michael Gardiner. While he started and finished the year a little inconsistently, this should improve in the new season as it was his first full year of AFL footy. Given he is the only recognised ruckman at the Saints with AFL experience; and without any competition from within; as well as the favourable draw in their favour – McEvoy is primed for a huuuge year.
- Scored 100 + eight times in 2011
- Had an amazing run of form between rounds 7 and 21 where he averaged 101
- Has a high ceiling typified by his 139 in round 11 (against Collingwood)
- Only has to play against last year’s top 8 teams multiple times twice
Verdict: All of the facts point to one thing – McEvoy will be a great pick in 2012. Priced at 90, he is great value for what he should achieve.
Expected average for 2012: 98
Nick Riewoldt – FWD – $416,700 – 2011 avg – 84.2 (21 games)
He has been one of the first picked and most reliable forward options for the last 8 years. However 2011 was very down on his high standards. Take away 2010’s anomaly that was mainly due to his hamstring injury; as well as this year’s debacle that was St Kilda’s first half of the year; and Nick has been a DT deity since the year 2004. Since his 2nd year, Voldt has recorded 7 seasons of 20 + games; averaged 88 a game or higher for the last 7 years straight (bar 2011); AND done so with a target on his head, constantly attracting the attention of the league best defenders. With a new coach and drama free preseason, he should feel refreshed and ready for a return to DT greatness that he had become known for circa 2010.
Verdict: I’m expecting Voldt to come out firing in 2012. With a great opening draw, he should have plenty of big scores from the very beginning.
Expected average for 2012: 95
Bargain or Breakout
Lenny Hayes – MID – $382,800 – 2011 avg – 86 (2 games)
If you haven’t already, go back and read my ‘Versus’ article to see my thoughts on Lenny. At his price he looks great value for what he is capable of. His preseason is coming along well and looks to be gearing up for the start of the season. If he’s fit, he will be an absolute steal. Priced at just 77, expect him to make some money and become a handy scorer along the way.
Verdict: Bargain. Lenny should make amends for 2011 and return a respectful average in the new season.
Expected avg for 2012: 102
Jack Steven – MID – $394,500 – 2011 avg – 79.8 (20 games)
One of the promising young midfielders in the St Kilda circle, Steven is ready to take the rains and issue in a new era in the red, white and black. Enjoying a great season where he played 20 games for a respectful average of 80, Steven is primed for more midfield time in 2012 as the Saints prepare for life after Hayes, Montagna, Dal Santo and co. If we take out 2009 where he only played 1 game; 2012 will be his 3rd year in the AFL. With his scoring curve on the way up, expect this to continue to rise in a new season where improvement will be expected and youth will be given more chances as the year goes on.
Verdict: Breakout. Watch for Steven to spend more time in the middle during 2012 and show improvement in his numbers across the board.
Expected avg for 2012: 90
Sam Gilbert – DEF – $345,600 – 2011 avg – 69.9 (22 games)
After two great seasons as a high scoring, rebounding defender, Gilbert was badly affected by poor positioning by former coach Lyon; as well as sustained pressure following his inexplicable behaviour in last year’s offseason. His DT average dropped by over 23 points as he was forced to pinch hit in the forward line for much of the season. With a new coach, hopefully everyone comes to realise that his best football is played running of the half back flank. Gilbert will be one of many to watch in the NAB cup to see how Watters will play him in 2012. If the above comes to fruition, we should see him DT output return to premium status and be one of the best value buys of the season.
Verdict: Bargain. If Gilbert looks to reprise his 2010 role, get on early as he returns to DT prominence.
Expected avg for 2012: 88
Beau Wilkes – DEF – $98,700
Recruited as a mature age player who is ready made to step in to the 22; Wilkes should see a lot of games in 2012 rotating between fullback and as a third tall forward. Whilst not likely to score highly, he is likely to have higher job security than many other rookies in this year’s class.
Expected games in 2012: 16 +
Expected avg: 60
Rookie rating: 7/10
Verdict: Wilkes will be a popular pick in the backline this year as he looks to fill the void in St Kilda’s team made vacant by Zac Dawson.
Jack Newnes – MID – $98,700
Taken as St Kilda’s third pick in the 2011 draft (37 overall), Newnes is a good size and could come in and fill a number of positions in the Saints team. He has a great kick, good hands and loves to tackle; if he gets a run he could be a good downgrade target. Compared by Coach Scott Watters to Lenny Hayes, Newnes is a star of the future.
Expected games in 2012: 8-10
Expected avg: 70
Rookie rating: 6/10
Verdict: Look for Newnes to earn his chance in the senior side later in the year with Watters looking to youth in 2012. He could be a great downgrade option.
Jay Lever – RUC/DEF – $98,700
The young Geelong Falcons ruck should see some time down back/fwd late in the year if an opportunity arises. Also look for him to provide some support for McEvoy by pinch hitting in the ruck towards the end on the season. Besides Rhys Stanley and an ageing Jason Blake, Lever is one of the few tall options on St Kilda’s list. Standing at 200cm, he may not score highly but could offer us with a downgrade for Stephenson or Giles mid-season.
Expected games in 2012: 4-8
Expected avg: 40
Rookie rating: 5/10
Verdict: His DPP gives him additional value as a mid-year downgrade target. Don’t expect him to give us good numbers but could offer valuable cover late in the season.
Ahmed Saad – FWD – $115,800
The pocket rocket from the Northern Bullants, Saad is an exciting prospect that only started playing AFL 5 years ago. Despite this, he managed to kick 50 goals last year from his 20 games in the VFL. Likely to get a crack at senior footy this year, Saad will add another small forward to the St Kilda arsenal. He may have to bide his time behind Milne, however like the other rookies, expect him to make an impact when he makes his inevitable debut.
Expected games in 2012: 10 +
Expected avg: 60
Rookie rating: 7/10
Verdict: If Saad gets a run early, jump on as he should be ready to play straight away.
Others to Consider
Adam Schneider [FWD, $393,000, 2011 avg – 79.5 from 20 games] – Averaging around 80 ppg and only missing 4 games in the past 3 years, expect Adam’s numbers to rise in 2012 along with the rest of the team.
Arryn Siposs [FWD, $177,100] – An accurate kick with great hands, watch for Siposs to get more opportunities in 2012 and increase his average. Priced around that of # 1 draft pick Jonathon Patton, this kid is a solid option as a cash cow.
Terry Milera [FWD, $115,800] – Another mature aged forward recruit taken to add some depth to an ageing Saints team, Milera should make his debut mid – late season and provides us with a solid downgrade target for our forward line.
Also – head to the link below for a look at stkildathunder’s previous review for a different perspective.
Thanks for reading – McRath