At a glance:
- Brett Ratten has backed his young playing group to step up to the challenge of taking on Richmond this Saturday.
- The Saints have made the one change ahead of Maddie's Match, with Josh Battle coming in for Nicholas Hind.
- Ratten says there is little benefit to "throw the team around" because of one result.
Brett Ratten has backed his young playing group to step to the challenge of taking on the reigning Premier in Maddie’s Match this Saturday.
The gap in experience was stark and the lack continuity with so many new faces obvious, but Brett Ratten was in no mood for excuses following the Round 4 loss to the Magpies.
The Saints have made just the one change off the back of their 44-point defeat to Collingwood, with Josh Battle coming in for the five-year anniversary of Maddie’s Match in place of Nicholas Hind.
And while the message at the selection table was one of trust, Ratten and his coaching staff didn’t miss in their review.
“It wasn’t a whack as such, it was more ‘this is the reality, what do you think? Is this us?” Ratten said.
“We’re a growing team, we have to mature and take it on board and respond.
“That’s the reality of the game, you can’t sit there and hide from the facts, we have to do something about it.”
Saturday’s loss could have seen the senior coach swing the axe and make “five or six” changes heading into Round 4, but Ratten says it’s far too early – and not beneficial – to be taking such drastic action two games into the season restart.
The Saints have a host of talent eyeing off spots in the senior line-up, with Dylan Roberton, Luke Dunstan, Jimmy Webster, Jack Sinclair and Dean Kent frontrunners to squeeze back in.
“That’s the hard thing, we had a victory like we did against the Bulldogs and the football was really encouraging and the that way we wanted to play, and the next week we didn’t,” Ratten said.
“If it becomes a trend, we’ll definitely make some changes, but it’s definitely not a trend at the moment.”
The gap between the Magpies (average of 103 games per player) and the Saints (77 per player) demonstrates the different levels of experience in the two teams but for Ratten it was all about effort.
St Kilda were outplayed and outmuscled last Saturday afternoon by a sleek Collingwood outfit in the opening half, whose strength and relentlessness at the contest powered them to a six-goal lead at the main break.
While the Saints managed to mitigate the Magpies’ potency and even up the numbers in the second half, the damage had already been done.
“We just let the opportunity go early, and that’s the bit that’s probably the most disappointing,” Ratten said.
“But that’s the great thing about footy, we get a chance to bounce back and I suppose through the week we’ve addressed some of these things.”
St Kilda will be presented with the chance to even its ledger against the reigning Premiers on Saturday, who will also be seeking amends after a shock 32-point loss to Hawthorn.
“The players are looking forward to the challenge – the Premiership team – and it will be a great test again, and the same things will come up for us again: we have to be better in the contest,” Ratten said.
“Richmond are a good team and we’re going to prepare for them at their best, and I’m tipping they’ll come out snarling and we’ll have to be up for it.”