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Playfair 'excited' by backman Battle

Mic'd up: Henry Playfair We mic'd up backline coach Henry Playfair during training.

Sometimes a positional shift is all it takes to extract the best out of a player.

Fraser Gehrig and Josh Bruce are testament to that fact, while the latest Saint to seek a change is youngster Josh Battle, finding a new home in defence.

And defensive coach Henry Playfair believes Battle has all the makings of an elite backman.

READ: Backing in Battle

Renowned throughout the club for his relentless work ethic and first-class preparation, it’s Battle’s elite physicality and game sense that has his line coach so excited.

“He’s done really well already, he’s an exciting player to have back there,” Playfair told saints.com.au.

“We’re rapt to have him really. We were lucky to get him from the forward line, because he was playing some pretty good footy up there.”

A swingman in his own right at both Geelong and Sydney, Playfair said Battle’s ready-made traits were the impetus for the shift.

“We just thought it might suit his attributes; he’s got a really good tank, ran a really good 3km time, he’s an excellent natural athlete,” he said.

He’s also got good speed and uses the ball well on both sides of his body, and he can intercept mark it, so he’s got a lot of things that we like."

“It’s just about bringing them all together now and giving him time in that role to get his head around it and understand the patterns and shapes, and feel comfortable there.”

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While the line coach was brimming with positivity about the 20-year-old’s prospects, he also acknowledged the transition would likely take some time.

“There’s a lot of one-on-one stuff with myself and Jake Batchelor, who’s the new defensive development coach,” Playfair said.

“Josh is still learning the craft, so we can’t expect too much, but we’re excited by what we’ve seen so far.”