Vice-captain Callum Wilkie has named Zaine Cordy as his potential partner-in-defence to rein in Geelong’s two-headed forward monster of Tom Hawkins and Jeremy Cameron ahead of St Kilda’s season opener at GMHBA Stadium this Saturday night.

The premiership Bulldog-turned-Saint started his maiden season at St Kilda plugging the accumulating injury toll as a forward, however slotted into his customary position down back in the tail-end of the year when Dougal Howard went down with a broken wrist.

It’s a similar set of circumstances a year on, with Howard’s hamstring strain - sustained in the dying moments of last fortnight’s AAMI Community Series game against North Melbourne - opening the door for the key defender in the wings.

Wilkie and Cordy combined to strong effect the last time the Saints and Cats locked horns in Round 23 of last season, combining for 35 disposals, 20 marks and 15 intercepts to curb the powerhouse duo to just two goals and book a place in September.


“(Zaine) did a great job last year in the back end when Dougal went down. He’ll fit right in,” Wilkie said at this morning’s press conference.

“He’s an experienced player, leads really well, uses his voice so he’ll figure into team selection.

“It’s going to be a big challenge. I’ve faced Jez (Cameron) a few times and he always keeps you on his toes, he’s an amazing player and I’m looking forward to it. It’s going to be tough but I’m up for the fight.”

Jack Sinclair (calf) is still in the frame to feature against the Cats this Saturday, taking part in training this morning to “put his best foot forward” for a call-up .

Pre-season draft selection Riley Bonner has stepped up to the plate in the All-Australian and reigning Best & Fairest’s absence in recent weeks, being blooded into the defensive line-up without skipping a beat to accrue 30 possessions and a goal in the club’s recent practice match against North Melbourne.

Sinclair will take part in Thursday’s match simulation to press his bid for Round 1, but has flagged the following week for Spud’s Game against Collingwood as his fall-back option should he be unavailable at the Cattery.

The Saints will be bringing their best talent available down the highway for “one of the hardest road trips in football” regardless, hoping to start their season on the right note and snap a winning drought at GMHBA Stadium which has stood since 1999.

Spud's Game on the big stage

“They’ve been a very good team for the last 20-30 years and they play the ground so well, so it’s a big challenge. We’ve played down there a few times in the last few years, but a few players here haven’t,” Wilkie said.

“It’s a huge challenge. We’re looking forward to it, and what better way to start Round 1 than going down to Geelong where we haven’t won in ages and put up a good fight.

“Our run and our fitness from last year held us in good stead and we’e gone again in that space. 

“There’s been a few little tweaks in our gameplan and we added a few players, but it’s probably not reinventing the wheel. What made us a really good team last year was our effort and our contest and our ability to fight in games.

“I feel like we just needed to hammer down on that and against Geelong with 40,000 fans, what better way to start.”