Callum Wilkie reckons he’s had more losses than wins at Norwood Oval since he first started playing games at the venue from about the age of 13, however he’s hoping to add a more positive memory tomorrow – this time in St Kilda colours – for tomorrow’s Gather Round match against Richmond.

The Saints landed in South Australia late yesterday afternoon in anticipation of Sunday’s match-up with the Tigers, spending this morning getting a feel for the peculiar and narrow ground in front of a strong contingent of local and traveling fans. 

All-Australian defender and South Australian product Wilkie won’t have to grapple with Tigers tall timber forwards Tom Lynch (hamstring) and Noah Balta (knee) in what is set to be a far different forward set-up to years past, but will have the returning triple Norm Smith medallist Dustin Martin to contend with.

The Tigers are humming after last week’s maiden triumph under new coach Adem Yze, with Wilkie expecting a confident outfit in yellow and black to go toe-to-toe with the Saints.


“They were awesome last week, not just their forwards who obviously have a couple of injuries (this week), but their whole team. The pressure and the way they played, they were impressive against Sydney,” Wilkie said this morning at Norwood Oval.

“Dustin Martin’s coming back into the team and I’m sure he’ll play a fair bit forward which will provide us with a handful.

“I’ve played on him a few times and he always keeps you on your toes. He’s a great player, once in a generation, and it’s always exciting to go up against the best. That’s who you want to play against.

We’ve had to do our homework. It is a different forward line than we’ve played against Richmond for a while, but they’ll be a handful.

- Callum Wilkie

While the Tigers will be down their leading forwards, the Saints will be buoyed by the return of Max King from suspension.

King’s replacement for last week, Anthony Caminiti, has held his place in the side to stretch Richmond’s defence, which will also have to rein in the likes of Tim Membrey, Mitch Owens and Cooper Sharman.

“He’s huge for us, he’s such a big presence,” Wilkie said regarding King.

“Now having Caminiti down there as well, two big twin towers, I feel like they can be a handful for the opposition.”

The size and shape of Norwood Oval, which measures 165m long and just 110m wide, means there will be less room than usual for the Saints forwards to operate in.

Norwood Oval is unfamiliar territory for both the Saints and Tigers - although St Kilda’s AFLW side played at the venue in 2021 - who each prepared accordingly in the lead-up to Sunday by painting the dimensions of the narrow deck onto their respective home training grounds.

“We painted the dimensions of it (on the ground)… a few kicks were going out on the full pretty quickly,” Wilkie said.

“It’s a lot narrower than the grounds we play, and even GMHBA (Stadium) which is pretty narrow, this is narrower than that. We just had a look at it before and everyone’s getting a feel for it. It’s easier to adjust when you’ve got the grandstand for perception rather than more grass like at Moorabbin. 

“It’s going to be a contested game you feel, a narrower ground means there’s not going to be as much space for running than say at Marvel (Stadium) and the ‘G.

“We feel like that can suit us and you’ve obviously got to adapt to the conditions.”