St Kilda’s forward line is preparing for a serious dose of added firepower ahead of its all-important battle with West Coast on Thursday night.
Key forwards Tim Membrey and Max King lead the race for a Round 17 return, but have a range of experienced defenders and young talents right behind them.
The importance of a win over the Eagles remains front of mind. Selection is now more crucial than ever.
Here’s who’s in the mix ahead of Thursday’s under-lights affair.
Rowan Marshall’s best-on-ground performance up forward last Sunday makes for a compelling case to park him there again this week.
But with Tim Membrey verging on an imminent recall alongside Max King, plus the danger of a fresh Nic Naitanui looming in the ruck, the Saints’ offensive is more than likely scheduled for a slight shake-up.
Finger surgery ruled the three-time leading goalkicker out of the Blue Ribbon Cup game against the Hawks to bring an end to his consecutive games streak (54).
Membrey has slotted 16 majors this season, leads the club’s forward line for marks (40) and trails ever-so-slightly behind King for total forward-50 ground-ball gets (19) and marks inside-50 (19).
The key forward tested his repaired digit on the park during yesterday morning’s session, but won’t be risked if he’s not fully fit.
No matter which metric you look at, Max King’s debut season has yielded a pass with flying colours.
A well-deserved rest following a taxing start to his AFL career has the key forward primed and ready for a pivotal role against West Coast’s All-Australian backline.
While the threat of Jeremy McGovern flying in with intercept marks shapes as the biggest thorn in St Kilda’s side heading into attack, King’s ability to clunk marks of his own, compete aerially and bring the ball is likely to be a major focus for Adam Simpson’s defenders.
Even after being managed ahead of Round 16, the Rising Star nominee still sits second in St Kilda’s goalkicking tally (19) and contested marks (22) behind Dan Butler (24) and Rowan Marshall (25) respectively.
Five months on from his miraculous return against North Melbourne, five consecutive times selected as an emergency.
It’s been an enduring spell for Dylan Roberton, but he might not have to wait much longer as he looks to snare a spot down back ahead of the Saints’ decisive final matches.
The 29-year-old has spent majority of the year at reserves level, but is potentially days away from donning the red, white and black for the first time since Round 1.
With the height to match the opposition forwards Josh Kennedy, Jack Darling and Oscar Allen, the experience to offer a steady head under pressure and foot skills to get the Saints out of danger, Roberton’s potential inclusion could be vital.
After missing three of the Saints’ past four games, key defender Jake Carlisle will be looking to reclaim his backline post and add some tall timber against the Eagles.
If speed is the answer to topple West Coast, Nicholas Hind lies in wait to provide his electric pace across the Gabba.
The mature-age recruit has kicked six goals from his nine games this season, with a three-goal bag against the Swans his best figures to date.
Meanwhile, big-bodied youngsters Jack Bytel and Ryan Byrnes could add another layer to combat the injury-hit West Coast midfield and provide an extra presence around the contest.
Round 16 line-up
IN: Abbott (new), Lonie, Marsh
OUT: Hind (omitted), King (managed), Membrey (injured)
|B||Jarryn Geary||Callum Wilkie||Nick Coffield|
|HB||Ben Paton||Dougal Howard||Hunter Clark|
|C||Bradley Hill||Sebastian Ross||Jack Billings|
|HF||Zak Jones||Ryan Abbott||Dan Butler|
|F||Dean Kent||Rowan Marshall||Josh Battle|
|R||Paddy Ryder||Jack Steele||Jack Sinclair|
|INT||Ed Phillips||Jonathon Marsh||Jack Lonie|
|E||Ryan Byrnes||Nicholas Hind||Dylan Roberton|