Max King, Nick Coffield and Hunter Clark have been named in the 2020 AFL Players’ Association 22Under22 40-man squad in recognition of their excellent seasons to date.
The trio have emerged as vital pieces of the Saints’ recharged line-up, with Brett Ratten tasking the young group critical roles in writing the opening chapters of the club's new era.
The 22Under22 aims to recognise the best players aged 22 and under throughout the course of the season, with fans encouraged to vote on who should make the final side.
Coffield has entrenched himself as a core member of St Kilda’s back six post-restart, leading the red, white and black for intercept marks (28) and marks (90), for which he places fifth across the entire competition.
Clark has also shone across half-back, playing crucial roles in wins against Port Adelaide, Gold Coast and Sydney with his poise and class.
St Kilda has consistently carried one of the youngest defences in the competition, but the maturity and composure shown from the emerging brigade would indicate otherwise.
Collectively, the green defence of Coffield (32 games), Clark (43), Ben Paton (31), Ben Long (42) and Callum Wilkie (36) still doesn't surpass Jarryn Geary's 200 games' experience.
Up the other end of the ground, forward spearhead King has been equally influential from his 14 games, shouldering a great deal of responsibility as St Kilda’s focal point in attack.
The 202cm talent currently charts second for the Saints’ goalkicking (19) and contested marks (22), and earlier in the year snared a NAB Rising Star nomination for his three-goal performance against Essendon.
Ben Paton and Ben Long were overlooked in the 40-man squad despite breakout seasons across half-back, while recently re-signed Josh Battle also missed out on selection after emerging as one of Ratten's most versatile talents.
Players must have played at least eight games (amended from the 10 in previous seasons) throughout the course of the season to be eligible for selection.
The final 22 will be announced on Tuesday 22 September.
Tim Membrey (2016), Jack Billings (2017) and Jade Gresham (2018, 2019) have all been named in the 22Under22 team, while current players Jack Steele, Jack Sinclair, Luke Dunstan and Dylan Roberton have been recognised in the 40-man squad in recent years.
The inaugural 2020 AFLW 22Under22 side also saw joint best-and-fairest winners Georgia Patrikios and Caitlin Greiser named.