St Kilda 2022 preview: Season predictions for the Saints as they look to challenge at the top

One had his season wrecked by a sickening collision, another finished with a bang, while the mid-season pick showed something special. Will they take a step in 2022?

Are these three Saints set to take a big step in 2022?
Are these three Saints set to take a big step in 2022?

St Kilda sputtered early last season and never really got going, but will things be different in 2022?

Rebecca Williams runs the rule over Brett Ratten’s Saints.

After storming into the semi-finals in 2020 — the team’s first finals appearance since 2011, the hopes of the Saints taking another step in 2021 were dashed.

As injuries cruelled the team’s campaign, with 162 games lost to the best 22, the Saints fell outside the top eight to finish 10th with a 10-12 record.

Can Brett Ratten get the best out of the Saints in 2021? Picture: Michael Klein/NCA
Can Brett Ratten get the best out of the Saints in 2021? Picture: Michael Klein/NCA

The Saints were unable to recover from a poor start to the season, losing four of their first 11 games by more than 50 points.

St Kilda president Andrew Bassat said on the club’s best and fairest awards night the Saints had failed to meet on-field expectations.

After topping up with mature-age talent in recent years, St Kilda has, this year, opted to take the path of regenerating its list at the draft.

COACH: Brett Ratten

CAPTAIN: Jack Steele and Jarryn Geary

Captain Jack Steele clearly loves being at St Kilda, signing a new long-term deal in the off-season. Picture: Mark Stewart/NCA
Captain Jack Steele clearly loves being at St Kilda, signing a new long-term deal in the off-season. Picture: Mark Stewart/NCA

WHERE DO THEY FINISH IN 2022

If the Saints can have a clear run with injuries and recapture the speed and run which took them to the semi-finals in 2020, there is no reason they can’t be in the finals mix next year.

They only finished a game – and percentage – outside of the top-eight this season with an injury-ravaged list.

There is plenty of upside among the young players on the list with Max King, Jack Bytel, Hunter Clark and Cooper Sharman and they will be hoping Bradley Hill can recapture his best form.


BIGGEST IMPROVER

Hunter Clark. A broken jaw following a brutal collision with David McKay stopped short a season where the Saints’ smooth mover took another step forward. Has looked at home at half back but it’s in the midfield where he really could be the player the Saints need. His Round 1 effort against the Giants in the wet was a glimpse of what he is capable of. All he needs now is to force his way into the middle of the ground and continue his rise.

Could Hunter Clark be a break out star for the Saints? Picture: Michael Klein/NCA
Could Hunter Clark be a break out star for the Saints? Picture: Michael Klein/NCA


X-FACTOR

Max King. The No.4 draft pick has all the makings of an elite forward and is a young player Saints fans can get excited about. The 202cm King shrugged off goal kicking yips early in the year to boot 38 goals in his second season at the club, including a six goal haul against West Coast in Round 19. Mid-year recruit Cooper Sharman also impressed in the five games he played after the forward was taken in the mid-year rookie draft in June, kicking 10 goals in four games.

Max King can build on a super finish to the season in front of the sticks. Picture: Michael Klein
Max King can build on a super finish to the season in front of the sticks. Picture: Michael Klein

COACH STATUS

Entering his third year of his tenure at St Kilda, the pressure will be on Brett Ratten to get the Saints back into finals contention in the last year of his contract.

Ratten will be hoping he has the football injury gods on his side and the Saints will need a strong start to the season to hose down any speculation about his future.

In the last year of his contract, Jack Bytel will be looking to impress. Picture: Michael Klein/NCA
In the last year of his contract, Jack Bytel will be looking to impress. Picture: Michael Klein/NCA

WHO IS IN LAST YEAR OF CONTRACT

Ben Long, Ben Paton, Dan Butler, Dan Hannebery, Daniel McKenzie, Darragh Joyce, Dean Kent, Jack Bytel, Jack Steele, Jarryn Geary, Jimmy Webster, Josh Battle, Mason Wood, Matthew Allison, Max Heath, Paddy Ryder, Rowan Marshall, Ryan Byrnes, Tom Highmore.

INS FOR 2022

Tom Campbell (delisted free agent), Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera (pick 11), Mitch Owens (33), Marcus Windhager (47), Oscar Adams (51), Jack Peris (category B rookie), Josiah Kyle (category B rookie)

OUTS FROM 2021

Sam Alabakis (delisted), Jake Carlisle (retired), Oscar Clavarino (delisted), Luke Dunstan (unrestricted free agent – Melbourne), James Frawley (retired), Paul Hunter (delisted), Jack Lonie (delisted), Shaun McKernan (retired), Dylan Roberton (retired)

Will Bradley Hill fulfil the promise that made the Saints commit big dollar to him? Picture: Michael Klein/NCA
Will Bradley Hill fulfil the promise that made the Saints commit big dollar to him? Picture: Michael Klein/NCA


FIRST SIX GAMES AND HOW MANY THEY WIN

Round 1: Collingwood @ Marvel Stadium (W)

Round 2: Fremantle @ Optus Stadium (L)

Round 3: Richmond @ Marvel Stadium (L)

Round 4: Hawthorn @ MCG (W)

Round 5: Gold Coast @ Marvel Stadium (W)

Round 6: GWS @ Manuka (L)

3 wins, 3 losses

BEST 22 IN ‘22

B: Howard, Wilkie, Webster

HB: Sinclair, Highmore, Clark

C: Hill, Crouch, Billings

HF: Gresham, Marshall, Membrey

F: Butler, King, Higgins

Foll: Ryder, Steele, Jones

Inter: Ross, Paton, Hannebery, Sharman

Emerg: Wanganeen-Milera, McKenzie, Bytel, Geary, Coffield

Originally published as St Kilda 2022 preview: Season predictions for the Saints as they look to challenge at the top