A 41 point loss to Richmond on Sunday has seen St Kilda finish the 2017 season in a disappointing 11th position with eleven wins. One less than last season.
Alan Richardson is not worried
St Kilda has not played finals football since 2011. But Alan Richardson last week declared the Saints are trending in the right direction.
“We’ll leave no stone unturned to make sure we get that [improvement]. We’re really bullish as a footy club with the list we’ve got. Like any club we’ll look to bolster that group but this is going to be a really good footy team, we’re not quite there yet, but we’re heading the right way.”
A squad ready for finals footy
The final game of the year did mark the end of an era with champion Nick Riewoldt. He was playing his final AFL game. The legend retiring after a remarkable 336 games. The former skipper is no doubt a future hall of famer.
A decision is still to be made on the playing future of Leigh Montagna. With the 33-year old keen to play on next year.
A lot of change to the playing list has taken place since Alan Richardson’s arrival at the end of 2013. St Kilda was certainly active in the trade period last year with the acquisitions of Nathan Brown, Koby Stevens and Jack Steele.
For 2018 the playing list certainly appears to have a good mix of experience and youth. Paddy McCartin and Hugh Goddard are two players in particular who should get plenty of opportunities at AFL level next year if they can have a good run with injury.
The Saints are well placed for the upcoming draft with the added bonus of receiving Hawthorn’s first round pick in the 2017 draft as part of a deal completed in last year’s trade period.
Faith in the coach
Alan Richardson is currently contracted until the end of next year. But earlier this month Chief Executive Matt Finnis declared the club would look to extend the contract of the senior coach sooner rather than later.
“It is certainly on our mind and we are very confident Richo is our man for the long term. We know it’s just a matter of what is the right time to have that conversation and what that starts to look like going forward.”
While it is a great show of confidence, it is not often a team would look to rush a contract extension for a coach who has not overseen a finals appearance during a four year tenure.
Alan Richardson is well regarded in AFL circles, especially with his ability to develop and nurture talent. But finals football is needed for St Kilda in 2018 to justify a new contract for Richo.