The tough midfielder only played 12 games in 2019 with hamstring and adductor problems keeping him on the sidelines. Treloar strained his hamstring in last week’s pre-season match against Richmond and is in a race to be fit for round one.
Collingwood’s midfield is deep but it would struggle to make up for the loss of two of their prime movers in Treloar and Adams for an extended period.
King impressed with his smooth moving and high marking in the first half in Morwell on Sunday, and did so against one of 2019’s most miserly defensive units in Collingwood and their high-fliers in Darcy Moore, Jeremy Howe and Jordan Roughead.
The 2018 draft no.4 pick will look to improve his set shot accuracy – he could have had three firs- half goals if not for missing two set shots and ending up with only one – but his presence in the marking contest and his speed and agility at ground level given his size is exciting. He took two contested marks for the half.
“Max is developing well as a young man,” St Kilda coach Brett Ratten said after the game.
“He has done enough to put his name up there in the selection [for round one] and as I said we want 30 blokes ready to select from if we can or even more.
“He has done a fair bit.”
It will be interesting to see how King fits in with the Saints forward line as the season progresses, which includes the tall Tim Membrey and Paddy Ryder or Rowan Marshall when either ruck is rotating into attack.
King’s speed and ability to cover ground works in his and St Kilda’s favour in this respect.
“I know Max King has drifted out of the game [in the second half], he just competed one against two and then when the ball hit the deck he was there to put pressure on the Collingwood player … he is doing all the things you could possibly ask him to do,” Jason Dunstall said on the Fox Footy coverage.
In good midfield news for the Pies Jordan De Goey spent a lot of time in the engine room, much more than usual, and equipped himself well while Josh Daicos and Jamie Elliott had an impact around the footy too.
For the Saints Bradley Hill looked sharp and clean in the midfield and Dan Butler was lively crumbing in the forward 50, while Jack Steele was strong as ever inside and Marshall’s aggression against Brodie Grundy was effective. Ben Long again looked superb in his new position on the half-back flank and Jack Lonie popped up with four goals.
Jaidyn Stephenson was very quiet in his first senior match for the Pies since his 2019 betting ban, kicking one goal in the final term thanks to a down-field free kick.
Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley was positive after the match despite the result: “A little bit more than we wanted [in the midfield] at times. Jordy’s impact when he comes in is excellent.
“He’s a point of difference for us.
“Jamie Elliott in the same manner was effective … so those two boys we’ll definitely be seeing through the midfield when we need the fresh legs.”
St Kilda’s new man at the helm Brett Ratten “was pleased the players adapted and we got things back on track.
“For us it’s about getting as many men ready for round one.
“That’s the first time [Zak] Jones has played with [Dougall] Howard, [Paddy] Ryder and [Josh] Hill and Dan [Butler] … if we keep putting these men together they’ll keep getting a greater understanding of each other which is good.
Collingwood play the Bulldogs in round one on March 20 while the Saints play North Melbourne on March 22.
Anthony is a sports reporter at The Age.