The Saints have been handed the toughest fixture of any side in Season 2021, according to the latest insights from Champion Data.

The draw will feature double-ups against both 2020 Grand Finalists, minor premiers Port Adelaide, fifth-placed West Coast and a Sydney side tipped to be on the up.

But according to Head of Football David Rath, that’s exactly how they want it.

“We want to beat good teams,” Rath told

“You’ve got to be playing well to win finals, and if you’re playing good teams, you’re in a better position to play well in finals.

We don’t see it as a threat, but more as an opportunity.

After a COVID-interrupted Season 2020 in which each AFL side played all teams once, Rath said the young Saints would learn from letting a number of winnable games slip.

“Last year was a really different year on all fronts,” he said.

“We were a little bit inconsistent, and there were a few games that we were in that we let slip. When a team has more cohesion, those things don’t tend to happen.

“Having said that, against good teams, if you’re off for even a small period of the game, they can really blow you away, so we’ll be working more and more to develop consistency within quarters.”

Gun midfielder Jack Billings recently revealed the Saints had addressed the need for further growth and knew that qualifying for finals again would not come easily.

“Last year was a big step forward for the club and it was really exciting to make finals and win that first final,” Billings said.

“But every year’s different. There are no guarantees for us this year. Just because we took that step last year it doesn’t mean we’re going to go again this year.

“We’ve got to earn it and improve what we’ve done last year.”