The Saints have been struggling, as expected this year. Here is my assessment of the players and some thoughts around how we can continue to develop.
1. Tom Hickey : Excellent prospect. Prefer having him on the list vs. Big Boy. There is a lot more upside to Hickey, providing he can remain fit and play for eight or so years. He is relatively agile around the ground, can take a mark, and kick goals. He is going to develop nicely.
2. Arryn Siposs : Great kick. Not fit or hard enough at the ball. Is the kind of player that tends to “watch and wait” for something to happen. He could be a great player but strikes me as lazy and not assertive on the footy field. I would play him in every game for the rest of the year to see if he comes good. If not, finish the experiment. If the Saints keep him in 2015, I would make his contract dependent on completing a highly structured pre-season to increase his aerobic fitness.
3. Jack Steven : Best player last year, been a bit quieter this year, but injury affected. Will be a ripper again in 2015.
4. Clint Jones : Was lucky to get a contract this year, but has justified his spot. Ordinary player but has earnt his keep. Never going to win you a flag, but one of the better support players.
5. Shane Savage : Dud. Delist at end of season. Wasted a trade on this guy. He is one of those players, like Raph Clarke, who are probably a bit good for VFL but just can’t keep up with the pace of AFL. He doesn’t get his own ball, and is another “watch and wait” player. Poor decision maker when he has the ball – which is not very often.
6. Seb Ross : Lot of talk about how tough he must be because he is Jobe Watson’s cousin. Not seen enough of him yet to understand his potential. I don’t like it when “Leadership” qualities are what people talk about rather than “ball magnet”. Hasn’t done anything much exciting when he has been given a game. Persist.
7. Lenny : Is in my top 5 players of all time at the Saints. He has slowed down a bit, but is still an absolute joy to watch, even though he is not able to do the things that made him such a star. Lenny should continue to play in 2016, but just in a forward pocket – teaching our often soft forward line how to play, similar to what Aaron Hamill used to do. It is sad to see he is one of our best players this year in his mid thirties. Just demonstrates how weak our mid field are.
8. Trent Dennis-Lane : Dud. Delist. Stop wasting time. DL just doesn’t get enough of his own ball. He is a soft forward. Doesn’t seem to want to chase, tackle, or get into pack. There is nothing wrong with being an outside player, but he just doesn’t get enough of the ball playing this way.
9. Tom Lee : Everyone keeps hoping Tom comes good. He is not going to. Again, we seem to have a problem with assertiveness across the board at the Saints. Players like Hamill and Fraser Gehrig demanded the ball, and were confident to go and get their own ball. Lee looks frightened to upset anyone. A lovely kick and a fair mark. He just needs to launch himself at the game more often. Stop worrying about getting in Nick’s way. Lee should have come to the Saints with a pick over 40 – the fact we traded pick 12 for this guy is what makes this so upsetting. He was playing for Claremont. Pick 12. For a player that kicked 60 goals in the WAFL? I have always been suspicious that the Saints called out the wrong name a la Marisa Tomei and then didn’t want to admit it. For pick 40, I would be OK with the risk, but pick 12 makes me just want to cry. Persist for one more year.
10. Daniel Markworth : Did a knee. Not seen him enough yet to make a call.
11. Leigh Montagna : Had another very good year. Suprised he hasn’t done a Free Agency switch?
12. Nick Riewoldt : Is getting a bit grumpy this year, which I can understand. I would have left the Saints if I was him and gone to Collingwood to chase a flag. He has been great – but needs to understand the long shadow he casts in the forward line. His brilliance is stifling the growth of other forwards.
13. Adam Schnieder : Last year. Not through lack of skill or ball, he is just injured too often. And that is not going to get any better next year.
14. Jarryn Geary : Great hard nut who is injured. A great example to other players on commitment to continuous development. And this after playing most of 201o and getting dropped for the GF. Would never disgrace himself like Robert Eddy did.
15. Jack Billings : I had some reservations on spending such a high draft pick – he looked a bit small. Since seeing him play, I am convinced he will be a pretty good player in the future. He is still a bit on the small size, but that will fix itself with a good preseason. He looks pretty natural out on the field.
16. Jack Newnes : Great mid range player. The kind of player we missed in our GF years…
17. Dylan Roberton : Not getting much of a run this year. Was pretty good in 2013. Persist. Hopefully with some bigger key position backmen, he can operate more as a traditional HB flank.
18. Biller Longer : Has a long way to go, but I have noticed him developing somewhat since Hickey has been injured. It takes a fair while for a big man to come good. Unsure but we should persist.
19. Sam Gilbert : One of our better players. I worry that about how injury prone he has become. Once players have more than one 6 month injury period, they seem to never come back.
20. David Armitage : Was coming into his own until his knee laceration. Still upside for Armitage to improve, but is a great second banana to Steven.
21. Luke Delaney : I am unsure about Delaney. He really struggled in the first half of the year, but probably did a bit better in a few later games. I suppose we don’t have any choice but to continue with Delaney. He was certainly an over-rated “trade” for Dal.
22. Farren Wray : Having another good year in a difficult period for the club.
23. Spencer White : Not seen enough of him yet. Surely we should be playing him insted of Stanley?
24. Sean Dempster : Having a good year, but is over 30. Will have one more great year in 2015 but then slide quickly.
25. Sam Fisher : Will not play again for the Saints. Injuries have overcome him. Has been one of our best players for the last 10 years.
26. Tom Curren : Elevated to senior list due to hard work. Continues to work hard, but needs to be careful to not become “just” a hard worker. When he won a bit of ball early in the season, we won games. He is starting to go down the Andrew McQualter path – McQ was an ok player, but only got into the team to play a defensive forward role. Gotta kick goals to win games… Just being a defensive player is not enough. Unless you are a Crowley…
27. Josh Bruce. Best haircut on the team. Developing but worth persisting with. Will get better with time. Like him better than Delaney – feels like more upside whereas I am not sure Delaney is going to get any better.
28. Rhys Stanley : Has promised so much for so long – am making the call. Trade him. He is never going to “come good”. He is another “watch and wait” player. He doesn’t really seem to want to get the ball or do something awesome. Just waits around and gets pushed around. He is tall, fast, can kick, can mark – but this is fooling everyone into thinking he can play. He is not going to be a great player. Trade.
29. Jimmy Webster : Another strong find for middle of the list players. Persist.
30. Brodie Murdoch : Early days, but looked good.
31. Tom Simpkin : He is OK – playing 8 – 10 games a year is good to have as a back up. Might be worth a try as a forward more often. He is aggressive and wants the ball. Our forward line apart from Nick are apathetic and tentative. Milney used to love getting the ball.
32. Terry Milera : I get it. He is an outside finishing player. Has had a couple of good games this year, but I am mystified why they recruited this guy. He is too light and tentative. Robbie Nahas has the same build, but I would never accuse Nahas of being tentative. Delist.
33. James Gwilt : Age and injury have caught up with him. Seems to have slowed down. Not sure if he can go on next year.
34. Nathan Wright : Hard ball winner. Like him.
35. Josh Saunders : Great “middle list” player.
36. Luke Dunstan : Future star.
37. Beau Maister : Had some great games last year as the foil to Nick. Aggressive at the ball, and his timing last year was great. This year, he seems to have completely lost his ball radar. Delist or keep as a back up. He was always going to struggle to keep on the list.
38. Sam Dunnell : Delist. Had chances. Again, a player people talk about being a “hard worker” – like saying a girl has a great personality…
40. Blake Acres : Showed a bit. Will show more.
42. Lewis Pearce : Not seen enough yet.
What other things?
The saints are building a great foundation of “mid list” players. The kind of players we missed in 2009 and 2010. The mid range players are looking to develop nicely. Our issue is there is no Nick Riewoldt coming through. No decent key forward. Lee and Stanley were the great white hopes, but it is clear that they are not going cut it.
I thought the Saints were trading for the #1 draft pick last year, moving on McEvoy etc. We need another top key forward. It doesn’t need to be another Nick – it could just be another Justin Koschitzke. JK was a “good” forward. You could structure the team around him. I would throw everything at Jeremy Cameron, who seems to want to return to Melbourne. With him on the team, the rest of the list looks much, much better in 2 years time.