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Red-hot McCartin ready to go says Richardson

Josh Gabelich  May 19, 2017 12:02 PM

Alan Richardson: Press Conference (19/5) Senior Coach Alan Richardson spoke to the media today from Trevor Barker Beach Oval ahead of our Round nine match against Sydney. (Friday 19 May, 2017)
AFL 2017 Round 02 - West Coast v St Kilda

Paddy McCartin has booted 18 goals in five VFL games this season.

He’s been really positive now for four or five weeks at VFL level. He couldn’t be in better form in the lead-up.

St Kilda Coach Alan Richardson says Paddy McCartin couldn’t have found better form in the VFL ahead of his return to the senior side against Sydney on Saturday.

After playing two of the first three rounds for the Saints, McCartin has spent the last five weeks at Sandringham, where he has kicked the most goals in the VFL with 18.10, as well as averaging 15.4 disposals and 9.0 marks (3.2 contested).

Richardson praised McCartin's marking during his time in the reserves, particularly against Coburg last Sunday where he hauled in 14 marks, including seven contested grabs to drag the Zebras over the line in a commanding performance.

“He’s been really positive now for four or five weeks at VFL level. He couldn’t be in better form in the lead-up,” Richardson told reporters at a press conference at Trevor Barker Beach Oval on Friday.

“His marking has been really impressive and it’s been the balance of his marking. It’s been when it’s time to lead and present he’s been good there, but in a contest he’s also been pretty impressive.

“He gets an opportunity this week against a very good team in Sydney. They are really strong defensively and get even stronger given [Dane] Rampe’s back in the team, so it will be a big challenge.”

With McCartin returning to St Kilda's forward setup, key forward Josh Bruce comes out of the senior side for the first time since his first year at Linen House Centre in 2014.

Richardson said that just like with McCartin’s omission earlier in the year, the Saints want Bruce to go back to the VFL and regain the touch that helped him boot 50 goals in a breakout 2015 and 38 last year.

“It’s good for him [McCartin] to come in with really strong form and that’s the message we’ve given ‘Brucey’,” Richardson said.

“‘Brucey’ is a really important player for us and he’s going to be an important player for us for a long time. The best thing for him right now and for us is for him to go back and get a bit of form and that was the message to Paddy.”

While St Kilda is ranked No. 1 in the AFL for scores per inside 50 (52.9 per cent) across the first two months, the Saints slip to No. 11 for goals per inside 50 (25.2 per cent), with Richardson using last week’s game against Carlton as an example of not capitalising on their entries.

“We’ve played some strong footy without really capitalising on some of our dominance,” he said.

“Last week against the Blues was a good example; 54 entries to 33 and we really don’t grab hold of the game until the last quarter.

“We haven’t been able to maximise our work in front of the ball and we think Paddy can help there.”

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