Two of the Saints’ big improvers from 2019 are primed to go to another level if this week’s 3km time trial is any guide. 

35 Saints took part in the gruelling run, setting the benchmark high as the countdown to the new season builds in anticipation.

Elite runner Ed Phillips once again proved his supremacy after taking out the time trial, while second-placed Doulton Langlands’ surge to the top of the pack has clearly signalled his intentions to play senior football in 2020. 

But it was Josh Battle and Rowan Marshall who were two of the biggest standouts, with the pair running impressive times for their size and crossing the line with new personal bests.

READ: Seventeen Saints slated for milestone matches in 2020

Midfielder Jack Sinclair rounded out the podium finishers, while Battle and new recruit Dan Butler made up the top-five. 

Butler’s work rate has caught the eye of many throughout the course of the pre-season, and has only improved after finishing ninth in the Saints’ previous time trial. 

Jack Steele returned unhampered following knee surgery in the off-season to place ninth, while Seb Ross and Jack Lonie retained their top-10 standing from November’s run. 

Bradley Hill and Daniel McKenzie cracked into the elite group after sitting out the previous time trial. 

Ultimately, the Saints' return to pre-season in promising shape has laid the foundations for an intense and skills-based lead-up to Season 2020.

St Kilda’s Head of High Performance, Matt Hornsby, was pleased with the results across the board. 

“The fact that we’ve got so many guys competing right at the front of the group means we don’t have too much of a gap between our best and our worst,” Hornsby told 

“The health of the group is really positive.

“The three weeks off meant the guys had to be really disciplined and diligent over that period of time, and they knew we’d be straight back into it. 

The guys have prepared themselves really well and that’s been reflected in their return results.

- Matt Hornsby

Hornsby lauded the Saints’ big men in particular, whose aerobic capacity and endurance is poised to bring a unique edge this coming season. 

“We’ve got a really good athletic group of big players, which is a real strength,” Hornsby said. 

“To bring Paddy Ryder in who’s a great athlete is a massive positive, we’ve already Rowan Marshall who’s a terrific runner with endurance and power, along with Max King, Ryan Abbott and Josh Battle. 

“To basically run like midfielders at their size, we’re really fortunate that we’ve got a very athletic group of big guys who will give us a competitive advantage going into 2020.” 

The Saints will have all eyes set on its first practice match of the Marsh Community Series against Hawthorn on Thursday February 20 at RSEA Park.

1 Ed Phillips Ed Phillips
2 Doulton Langlands Doulton Langlands
3 Josh Battle Jack Sinclair
4 Seb Ross Josh Battle
5 Jack Sinclair Dan Butler
6 Jack Lonie Daniel McKenzie
7 Jimmy Webster Bradley Hill
8 Jack Bytel Seb Ross
9 Dan Butler Jack Steele
10 Nicholas Hind Jack Lonie