St Kilda great Leigh Montagna has pleaded with the club to sell some of its star veterans to bring more youngsters into the club in a “reset”, believing it “needs to go back to move forward”.
The Saints’ finals hopes dimmed after the loss to Brisbane, dropping to 11-10 after a 5-1 start to St Kilda’s campaign.
From Round 7, St Kilda are ranked six under in the ‘Core Four’ statistics – with legs (15th), without legs, clearances and post-qualification competitions (all 12th).
Watch every blockbuster AFL match this weekend with ad-free in-game streaming on Kayo. New to Kayo? Start your free trial now >
“They’re in real trouble… it’s 15 rounds of football, it’s a bottom-four profile, so they’ve really struggled in their game,” Montagna said on Fox Footy. First crack.
“I think it’s a combination of both,” Montagna said when asked if their issue was personnel or system related.
This is because St Kilda have recruited players through trade and free agency over the past four years, including Paddy Ryder (aged 35), Dan Hanbury (32), Tom Campbell (31), Brad Hill, Dean Kent, Mason Wood, Brad Crouch (all 29); Jarrod Leinert, Zac Jones (both 28), Dougal Howard (27), Dan Butler, Jack Hayes (both 26) and Jack Higgins (24) to the crease.
Juxtaposing the age profile of those players with the rest of the core, Montgana questioned how much the Saints’ roster had turned over.
“This is a concern for St Kilda fans when you think about where the improvement will come from in the coming years,” he said.
“How much room for improvement have you got these guys? How high is their ceiling? This is in conjunction with their core group of Seb Ross, Tim Membre, Jimmy Webster, Jack Sinclair, Jack Billings, Rowan Marshall and Jack Steele, who are all 26 plus years old.
“At the top of that profile, there’s not a lot of ceiling room in the core group of players … it’s a very small margin.”
Montagna praised young guns Max King, Cooper Shaman (both 22), Nacia Wangan-Milera (20), Marcus Windhager and Mitch Owens (both 19), who joined the club in the same four-year period, but said he had They had “question marks” on their other children.
St Kilda believes they need to follow Port Adelaide’s pattern from post-2018 and trade currency to try and get their players back quickly.
“I think they have to go back to go forward,” Montagna said.
“I think they should take some of the players they brought in and bring in some more young talent and start again — Brad Hill, Zach Jones and maybe Jack Billins or Jed Gresham and try to get another young talent.
“I looked at Port Adelaide – they’ve been in mid-table for five years – then they traded Chad Wingard, Jasper Pittard and Jared Pollack when they were playing good football – Jack Holmes, Paddy Ryder and Dougal Howard.
They made some changes and brought in those young players — Zak Butters, Xavier Duursma, Connor Rozee and Mitch Georgiades — and then all of a sudden they played in back-to-back preliminaries (in 2020 and 2021).
“I think there are some concerns for St Kilda, they need to really think about where their list is going forward.”