“It probably is,” Ratten responded when asked if this role was an audition.
“I’ve been out of the senior coaching ranks for seven years. I didn’t want to get back into this way but I spoke to the club about it, to ‘Richo’ about it and he was pleased for me.
“I thought I would take it on for six weeks and get back in the saddle.”
If Carlton asked him to apply to be Brendon Bolton’s replacement, he would “consider it”, same with any other club, but otherwise he wants his six weeks to help the Saints prepare for 2020.
“We would talk about those things if they came up, I would be pretty transparent with the club and we’d try and work it out but we’ll see if it does happen,” Ratten said.
Ratten projected about a “20 per cent” change to how the team operates, trains and plays on field but he thinks what changes will be subtle.
In his own words, Ratten returns to senior coaching a calmer, happier and less stressed leader. Not being at his home club makes a difference as does time and perspective.
“I’m not as emotional,” Ratten said.
“When you are a younger coach and sometimes being at the club you played for [Carlton] so I got caught up being there as well.
“I’ve had a lot go on in my life since that period and maybe I look at life a lot different too. I have a laugh more and enjoy it as there are some things you can change and some things you can’t.
“When you are in the senior coaching role you try to do the right thing by fixing everything but sometimes you just can’t do that.”
Ratten’s biggest role maybe to remind his players they can win at AFL level if they avoid the drop-offs during quarters or parts of games.
“You say build some belief but we played Geelong at Geelong last week and not too many teams win down there,” Ratten said.
“We’ve played some really good football, probably the thing in the last six weeks has been our consistency to play four quarters.
“We can’t finish off games. We’ve put ourselves into some really good spots but fall into periods of the game where Richmond gets a hold of us or Geelong gets a hold of us.
“That will be the challenge for us.”
Saints recruit Daniel Hanneberry won’t play this week but could still finish out the season while Ratten will also give a few young Saints a game and try others in different roles.
“What he does this year is a bonus and hopefully he gets back next week but we want to get him in a good space for 2020 – he could play the last five games but we’ll leave that up to the medicos,” Ratten said of Hannebery.
Ratten didn’t offer an opinion on the strength of the list only noting injuries hurt the side and he kept his sense of humour when asked about who might get a call-up.
“Yep there are but I’m not telling you today,” Ratten said.
“There might be some along the way who get the opportunity and I think it’s good to reward the young kids who are playing well so we’ll probably make a change or two there.”
Whatever happens in the next six weeks Ratten will be throwing his all into the challenge and encouraging his players and assistants to do the same.
“We’ve got six games, hopefully it’s not 0-6 [win-loss] but footy is an interesting game. Sometimes you lose but it’s how you go about it,” Ratten said.
So if they can upset the Western Bulldogs at Marvel Stadium on Sunday could Ratten allow himself to be thrown in the middle for the sports drink shower usually reserved for players in a first win?
The Carlton-era Ratten would say no, the interim coach won’t rule it out.
“Never say never – that might be the thing that does happen,” Ratten said.
Roy Ward is a Sports writer for The Age.