At a glance:

  • Co-captain Kate Shierlaw says there are plenty of positives to take out from the Saints' first intra-club match of 2021.
  • Among the highlights were the returns of Tarni White and Nadia von Bertouch after almost a year out of the game recovering from knee surgery.
  • The Saints will face Carlton in a practice match this weekend.

St Kilda’s first intra-club match of the new year has brought several positives as Round 1 fast approaches, according to co-captain Kate Shierlaw.

“Doing drills and all that at training is one thing, but actually playing a game is another,” Shierlaw told

“We’ve missed a whole chunk of time playing footy and there are a few cobwebs to blow out, but it was really positive to be able to get together as a group and actually play.

“It was a pretty even contribution across the field to be honest. I think that’s a strength of ours that we’ve got pretty good depth across the group and we all play our roles, so it’s hard sometimes to pick standout players.”

The successful returns of Tarni White and Nadia von Bertouch from respective ACL injuries undoubtedly marked the most uplifting moment of the morning.

After almost a year away from competitive football, both are now on track to push for a Round 1 berth in two weeks’ time.

Pick No. 6 Tyanna Smith and new forward additions Renee Saulitis and Jacqui Vogt were also among those to catch Shierlaw’s eye, while Nicola Xenos and Tilly Lucas-Rodd have been tipped by the co-captain to take another step forward in 2021.

With a focus on free-flowing scoring heading into the new year, St Kilda’s new inclusions – particularly Smith and Saulitis – are poised to play their roles in accelerating Peta Searle’s gameplan.

“I feel like we’ve been able to consolidate a lot on our game-plan from last year and grow and improve as a group,” Shierlaw said.

“Because it was the first year for us in the competition, we didn’t really know where we kind of sat, what would work for us and what wouldn’t.

“There’s a bit less of that anxiety around where we stand and what works for us. We know what our strengths are and how we can get the best out of our teammates, and the new girls who have come in have fitted in seamlessly.

I feel like we’ve now got a pretty clear understanding of what we need to do to play good footy and to play well as a team.

- Kate Shierlaw

Shierlaw and the Saints will turn their attention towards Saturday’s practice match against Carlton, set to be held at Ikon Park.

The game will be the red, white and black’s only hit-out against opposition before their season opener against the Western Bulldogs on Friday 29 January at RSEA Park.

“The Blues are obviously a highly talented and well-oiled team,” Shierlaw said.

“We don’t play them in the regular season, so to be able to be challenged in a praccy game to sort of see where we are before we start is really positive.

“It’ll be a really hard test for us at Ikon Park. It’s a big ground so I think it will really suit people like Kate McCarthy who like the space and like to run.”

Some more from Shierlaw

Tarni White and Nadia von Bertouch

"That one is really special. Tarni and Nadia have worked really hard over a really difficult period without access to gyms and all through the uncertainty of everything with COVID. The fact that 11 months down that they’re back playing competitive footy games is really impressive and just adds more depth to the group. They can come in and play their roles perfectly and straight away, so that’s exciting."

Renee Saulitis

"I’ve noticed in the gym she’s stronger and more equipped than a lot of the girls who’ve been doing gym for a lot of years. As an 18-year-old it’s pretty scary what I think she can do not only this year, but moving forward. She’s just taking it all on really easily and seamlessly. You would not even realise she was in the set-up last year and for an 18-year-old that’s pretty impressive."

Nicola Xenos

"I’ve been really impressed with her in the pre-season. She’s a bit of a quiet achiever and she’s really come back ready to go. I just love her competitiveness and feistiness on the field and I think she’s going to be really big for us this year."

Jacqui Vogt

"Jacqui as a mature body, she’s probably one to really watch. I think she’s ready to go and I’m really excited to see what she can do and the other two youngsters. We probably had lower numbers in the forward line but this year we’re chock full of talent, so it’s going to be really hard to get a game and I think the new girls have just made it more competitive and they’ve fitted in really well."

Tyanna Smith

"Tyanna is one to really keep an eye on. She’s going to come in and impact straight away – she’s very clean and shows flashes with her speed and that excitement."

Bianca Jakobsson Tilly Lucas-Rodd

"I think BJ showed quite a bit down back as well and someone like Tilly who has been around for a few years, she keeps improving every year and I think she’s going to take another step forward this year as well."