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Backing in Battle

The popular Saint will remain in the red, white and black until at least the end of 2020. Josh Battle has signed a two-year contract extension keeping him in the red, white and black until the end of 2020.
Could we see Josh Battle deployed in the backline in 2019? - Josh Battle
Could we see Josh Battle deployed in the backline in 2019?

After just seven games, Josh Battle has made a name for himself up forward.

But the young gun could be redeployed in 2019 as the Saints look to take advantage of his supreme athleticism up the other end of the ground.


Away from his usual home in St Kilda’s attacking 50, Alan Richardson, Henry Playfair and Jake Batchelor have been experimenting with the emerging powerhouse in defence during pre-season training.

“Richo came up to me and said we’ll see what it’s like – try and add another string to my bow – and I really enjoy it down there,” Battle said.

Battle’s natural inclination in reading the play and unrelenting attack on the footy has sparked the shift in position, with the prospective dual-position player developing his defensive craft by going up against the likes of Tim Membrey and Josh Bruce.

Battle evades midfielder Blake Acres

The 20-year-old has taken inspiration from Hawthorn’s James Sicily, whose aggression and ability to set up the play from the back-end have weaponised the Hawks’ defence.

It’s something which Battle hopes he can similarly utilise to add some explosivity to St Kilda’s backline.

“He’s someone who I’ve started watching closely,” Battle said.

“If I can try and use my read-the-play marking skills and use the footy out of defence to help the team, it’ll be great.”

Despite an already crowded offence and defence, the Vic Country powerhouse is unfazed by the limited number of spots each week, using it as motivation to assert himself as a regular in the side.

“I absolutely love that healthy competition, I think it’s really good that we’re all going to have to fight for our spots and I think that’s how the club will improve,” Battle said

The kind of guy you want in your squad.

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Within RSEA Park’s walls, Battle has sought out Billy Slater to hone his physicality and further warrant senior selection, with tackling technique a major focus during the pair’s short time together.

“I did five minutes with him on tackling and learned so much within those five minutes,” Battle said.

“He taught me so much, it was ridiculous.”

Correcting his tackling technique will be vital for the youngster in getting more game time, with Battle missing several weeks with a fractured eye socket following the Saints’ Round 15 victory over Melbourne.

His brief time in the senior line-up last year – in which he kicked six goals in his first three games – has nevertheless laid the vital foundations for a promising third year at the club.

“Personally, it gave me a lot of confidence knowing I can play at the highest level now,” Battle said.

“Moving forward, I can use that as a building block to head into 2019 and learn about my game.”

But Battle knows there’s plenty more to do in order to cement himself in St Kilda’s best 22.

 “I’ve got to keep working hard, do those extra sessions [in] getting stronger and seeking advice off the coaching staff to keep improving my game,” Battle said.

“It’s about taking my footy to the next level and being consistent week in, week out.”