Speedy wingman Ed Phillips is taking his time trial victory in his stride … literally.
The 20-year-old, who took out the club’s 3km race on Saturday, told SEN earlier this week that while important, the run was widely seen as a launchpad for the rest of the pre-season.
“You’ve got to take it seriously,” Phillips told SEN Breakfast.
“I try and treat it as another session, another chance to be getting better. It’s a good marker to see where the boys are at coming back from the three week break, but it’s definitely not the be-all and end-all.”
It was a brutal return for the Saints after the AFL’s first ever mandatory three-week Christmas break, which Phillips admitted would make some football staff nervous.
“There was always going to be a bit of scepticism from the strength and conditioning guys as to how guys would come back,” Phillips said.
"But I think we as a group saw through everyone’s results that everyone’s come back in really good shape. It will give us a solid platform now to launch from for the next block of training, into pre-season games and into the season.”
And Phillips’ focus is firmly fixed on continuing to build momentum through the pre-season, as the entire footy industry looks ahead to Season 2019.
“Every year you’ve got to have optimism that you can play well and win more games than you lose, but it’s hard until you start playing games against other teams to compare,” he said.
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“We feel we’re in a good position now, but we’ve still got a lot of work to do. You’ve got to keep the faith and be optimistic about what we can achieve.
“A lot of guys are developing really well, especially the younger guys. Nick Coffield and Hunter Clark have been good standouts pre-Christmas already with their work ethic and developing their endurance.
The older, more experienced guys are also really pushing the group…Dan Hannebery has been really good coming down to the club and having a really positive impact from day one."
“It’s hard to pinpoint just one person above the rest at the minute. Everyone’s really pushing each other to get better, and hopefully a number of guys can have a break-out year this year.”