Roughead to play key role in rise of young Saint

Max King, centre, attempts to mark the ball during St Kilda’s intra-club match. Credit:Getty Images

“[Thursday’s] game was a bit of snapshot [of] where Max’s game is at. He made some opportunities, he left quite a few out there,” he said.

“He is a work in progress. He is exciting but he still has a lot to learn. You could see there were some moments where he made good decisions and other times where he didn’t complete. He is working well and he is developing well.”

The innovative Rath, who was poached from the AFL to spearhead the Saints’ program alongside coach Brett Ratten, said Roughead, hired in a wide-ranging role including working with the key forwards, had plenty to offer in helping King mature as a player, a process which could take three or four years.

“It’s really around the mindset of being a key forward. It will be around some leading patterns. It will be around some body craft,” Rath said.

“It will be around how to work an opponent over and how to work out what your strength is over particular defenders. Those sorts of things you don’t know when you start out as an AFL footballer.”

King’s immediate plan will be to impress through the Saints’ three pre-season matches, beginning against Hawthorn at Moorabbin next Thursday, although it’s questionable as to whether he is ready for regular senior football. The Saints say it’s likely he will play in only two pre-season matches.

Max King, left, and Jake Carlisle, right, compete on Thursday.

Max King, left, and Jake Carlisle, right, compete on Thursday. Credit:Getty Images

Teammate Jack Billings said the Saints did not expect King to dominate.

“Obviously there is a lot of talk about him, being a high draft pick and a key forward. That brings a bit of extra responsibility … but he still has plenty to work on,” Billings said.


“You just hope he competes for the ball strongly and plays his role. Everything else is a bonus. For him, he just needs to focus on his body and try and string some games together.”

Expectations have lifted at the Saints in the wake of former Docker Brad Hill, former Port pair Dougal Howard and Paddy Ryder, former Swan Zak Jones and Richmond premiership player Dan Butler coming aboard. A fit Dan Hannebery will also be a boon. He played the full practice match, and impressed. His running was strong and onlookers praised his touch.

Howard was strong in defence and Butler found the ball through the middle while Ben Long, in a shift to half-back, was arguably best afield because of his excellent ball use.

Ryder (soreness) and Hill (corkie) were rested but are expected to be fit to face the Hawks.

Luke Dunstan was left with a corked thigh after a heavy tackle from Josh Battle but this is not expected to hamper his pre-season.

Billings said there was a different vibe at the club through changes in playing and coaching personnel, including having Ratten complete his first pre-season in charge.

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