To say it’s been a whirlwind week for the red, white and black would be a massive understatement.
Two wins on the trot, a readjusted fixture and a relocation to Noosa for at least the next month has been hectic on all levels, but Round 6 is firmly in St Kilda’s sights.
Even with Brett Ratten forced to make one change in light of Dan Hannebery’s hamstring injury, several other Saints may be able to squeeze back into the line-up after strong showings from Friday’s scratch match.
With ex-Swan Dan Hannebery out of commission with a hamstring injury, another former Blood stands as the perfect candidate to fill the void.
Zak Jones’ toughness could play a significant role in boosting the Saints’ midfield brigade ahead of Saturday afternoon, and alongside Jack Steele – who polled a perfect 10 coaches’ votes last week – could form a formidable inside force.
The 25-year-old missed Round 5 with hamstring tightness, with the revised five-day turnaround ruling out his chances of a return.
Jones was close to being best-on-ground in the Saints’ first game post-lockdown, racking up 29 disposals, six clearances and a goal to put the red, white and black on the board in 2020.
Now, with a chance to improve the ledger to 4-2, Jones could be the one to help the Saints get there.
Back-to-back best-on-ground performances in St Kilda’s past two scratch matches have dramatically increased Ryan Byrnes’ credentials towards making his senior debut.
The Sandringham Dragons captain was a standout in the slippery conditions at Ikon Park last Friday, accumulating plenty of footy and over 10 clearances in the comprehensive victory over the Blues.
Byrnes was selected as an emergency for last week’s prime-time clash, proving he’s well on Brett Ratten’s radar.
At the start of the year, St Kilda’s landmark trade period and the return of several sidelined stars would have made a draftee’s chances of slotting into the senior line-up incredibly slim.
But the absence of Hannebery and Byrnes’ sterling form may just be the opening the 19-year-old needs to squeeze into the red, white and black for the first time.
St Kilda’s well-documented depth couldn’t be clearer when there's an All-Australian ruckman pushing for a return to the senior line-up.
Paddy Ryder might not have to wait much longer for his opportunity, even with Rowan Marshall in sublime form over the past fortnight.
Along with Ryan Byrnes, Ryder was among St Kilda’s most prominent players at Ikon Park last Friday, notching up plenty of hit-outs and nine tackles in the wet.
With Fremantle utilising Rory Lobb as a key forward/pinch-hit ruckman inside-50, the Saints could take a similar approach with Ryder for Saturday’s match.
Brett Ratten is fast running out of room on his already-crowded magnet-board after several Saints pieced together commendable displays in last week’s scratch match against Carlton.
Highly touted talent Jack Bytel continues to press for a senior berth after a strong inside performance at Ikon Park, joining Byrnes in accumulating sizeable clearance numbers.
Jack Sinclair and Doulton Langlands are also hunting for Dan Hannebery’s spot after bagging three goals apiece floating between the midfield and half-forward, while Nicholas Hind’s composed, high-energy performance in the wet was a standout.
After keeping the Blues to just one goal for the match, the defensive end could be rewarded at the selection table ahead of Saturday’s match against Fremantle.
Nathan Brown was among the most impressive on the field and shapes as a potential inclusion to curb the Dockers’ tall timber, while Shane Savage was at his fluent best coming out of half-back.
The two veterans aren’t the only backmen to put their hands up for a recall, with Logan Austin and Daniel McKenzie beginning to notch several sound displays under their belts.