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Path to 2018 starts in the Tiwi Islands for St Kilda leaders

Josh Gabelich  December 1, 2017 12:36 PM

AFL 2017 Round 21 - Melbourne v St Kilda

Saints star Josh Bruce takes a hanger against Melbourne late in the season.

We knuckled down with a bit of the way it looks from here on out for the Saints with a relatively young list and getting us in the right direction to make the finals.

Before they rolled up their sleeves to start another summer at Linen House Centre, St Kilda’s leadership group spent the first week of the pre-season in the Northern Territory putting plans in place for 2018.

While the rest of the list remained in Seaford last week, Saints Coach Alan Richardson, Director of Coaching Danny Sexton, Captain Jarryn Geary and the rest of the leaders headed to the Tiwi Islands, in the first stage of life without celebrated leaders Nick Riewoldt and Leigh Montagna.

Star forward Josh Bruce said the trip provided the leaders with the opportunity to work out the path the group wants to pursue, as the Saints plot a return to September and beyond, while also including plenty of punishment in 35-degree heat.

“We knuckled down with a bit of the way it looks from here on out for the Saints with a relatively young list and getting us in the right direction to make the finals,” Bruce told the Herald Sun this week.

“We didn’t drill down too much into what we want the finished product to look like, because we want a lot of buy-in from the young guys as well.

“We really want that to happen as a group so that everybody is responsible and accountable for what we come up with.

“Basically it was just working out what direction we want to head in with it and to capitalise on a young list, energetic list and try and make the most of that in a way that can help us win more games and be inspirational to each other.”

Bruce, who has played 74 games for the Saints since crossing from Greater Western Sydney at the end of 2013, had never previously been to the Tiwi Islands and was left in awe by the locals love of the game and stunning foot skills.

“I’ve never been up there before, and we escorted some of the kids from one of the islands to one of the other islands where they go to school for a week. It was awesome,” he said.

“We learned a lot about Tiwi culture and how they live.

“They were unbelievable. Their skills were so good — including the girls. They were hitting us on the chest with both left and right foots, sending bullets down. We couldn’t believe it.

“They were barefoot in the red dirt — it was a classic.”