September has got everyone buzzing, none more so than Ross Lyon.
Get up to speed with everything to do with Saints, September and so much more as the countdown to Saturday's elimination final ticks down.
One selection call made, another incoming
There's quite a bit to discuss at match committee this afternoon.
Seb Ross will soon find out whether or not he'll reclaim his spot in time for September after battling a hamstring setback over the past fortnight, while Dougal Howard has effectively been ruled out after spending five weeks on the sidelines with a wrist injury.
Ross says...: He’s a leader, Seb. I’ll be guided by him and what he says to us. Once you declare yourself (fit), you’ve got to get it done. I had a good conversation with Dougal, he sought me out in my office and we talked pretty well. He understands possession is nine tenths of the law, and Cordy’s done a pretty good job and (Dougal) has missed a fair bit. But you’ve got to get through, right? Someone said to me once these things have a funny way of taking care of themselves.
Don't believe the narrative
Although the Giants will go into Saturday's match with the tipsters' vote, the Saints are using the "backs to the wall" sentiment as fuel for a fiery turnout come Saturday afternoon.
Ross says...: Really, the sentiment is the Giants go in favourites, maybe deservedly so, but we’ve had our backs to the wall all year. That’s nothing new, but it probably just steels us that little bit more. I love some of the language from our players like ‘we prepare like it’s a final every week’, ‘nothing’s really different, just the result’s bigger’. We just lean in with our (coaches) in Harvey, Hayes and Enright and all that experience they possess.
Experience isn't everything
Stacked up against other teams in the top-eight, the Saints' finals experience is on the lesser end.
Only nine players from the club's Round 24 line-up featured in its last September campaign, with another three (Zaine Cordy, Jack Higgins and Brad Crouch) having all played in Grand Finals at their old homes.
But as Lyon's "year of exploration" has shown, anything is possible, especially come this time of year.
Ross says...: We’re a very inexperienced finals team compared to the Giants, we understand that. I don’t think you can exceed expectations, but you can fulfil your possibility. I think we’re fulfilling what’s possible for us.
Ninth time around
While St Kilda's playing group isn't overly well-versed in September football, the coaching panel certainly is.
Assistant coaches Corey Enright, Robert Harvey and Lenny Hayes have 56 finals games, three Premierships and a Norm Smith Medal between them, while Lyon has led sides he's helmed into September nine times, inclusive of four Grand Final appearances.
The nerves may still be there, but Lyon feels a whole lot more relaxed this time around.
Ross says...: If you make it about me, I’m probably more relaxed overall because I’ve delegated more. I probably have gotten to the line a bit fresher. There is that nervous anxiety, there’s no doubt about that, but you feel like you’re alive. You can’t buy this experience and I’m fortunate to be in a position working with a club and a group of young players and coaches to try and achieve something.
Playing finals at the home of football? Yes please.
The Saints have taken to the MCG twice this season; first for the club's 150th Year Anniversary Game against Essendon in Round 3, before a true winter's hit-out against Richmond in Round 14.
Ross says...: We’re excited to play at the MCG, we like it… Marvel’s a unique stadium, it’s great weather… dry right? But we’ve liked our experiences there. We played really well against Essendon, and like the Giants we’re a good running team. We thought in the wet against Richmond we really fought on and learned a lot about playing in the wet. I don’t think there would be an AFL player that doesn’t want to play their final at the MCG to be fair.