ST KILDA targeted ready-made players at the 2018 AFL National and Rookie drafts, bringing in an elite tall, followed by players who can slot straight into the best 22 from round one if needed. Around the ground they picked up two general forwards, two defenders and an inside midfielder to go with a key position forward, covering a lot of bases and depth at Moorabbin.
Max King – Key Position Forward
The standout key position forward from Victoria and up there in contention for the number one pick until a knee injury ruined his year, King made his way to his supported club with their first overall selection at pick four. At 200cm and with a sub-three second 20m sprint, King is an unbelievable athlete, taking contested grabs at the highest point, and has a unique ability to take the game by the scruff of the neck and have an impact. He might not have been out on the field much this season, but his work off-the-field was just as influential, showing how highly rated his character is as well.
Jack Bytel – Inside Midfielder
The inside midfielder was believed to be hunted by Richmond with their second round pick, but the Saints snapped up the Calder Cannons co-captain with the selection before, adding him to their long list of big-bodied onballers. With a penetrating kick, strength overhead and a knack of retrieving the ball from contested situations, Bytel not only adds another ready-made midfielder to the fold, but natural leadership that will strengthen the Saints’ culture. He is that prototype midfielder size, and being good friends with King also helps as the pair end up in the red, white and black.
Matthew Parker – General Forward
A mature-ager who stepped up in the absence of Tim Kelly this year, Parker became a nuisance for opposition sides inside 50. The South Fremantle forward booted 27 goals from 20 games, while averaging 13 disposals and three marks per game in 2018. His breakout season has earned him a place on St Kilda’s AFL list, and along with SANFL premiership player, Robert Young, will add serious competition to the Saints’ forward half spots.
Nick Hind – General Defender
The speedy Ballarat plumber enjoyed a huge season at Essendon in the VFL in 2018, and now finds himself on the Saints’ senior list. He was best known for the semi-final winning sprint down the middle of the ground against Richmond in the dying seconds which delivered the ball to James Stewart for an upset Essendon win. He will offer that blistering speed on the outside from half-back and along the wing, which is what the Saints crave, and will provide them with an outside runner for their hardened inside midfielders to find.
Robert Young – Small Forward
After just managing the six SANFL League games with Port Adelaide Magpies last season, Young moved to North Adelaide where he became a crucial member of the Roosters’ forward six. He booted 19 goals from 19 games with the premiers, including a haul of six majors against Norwood early in the year. He has that keen goal sense and X-factor up forward, and will cause serious damage if given time and space. Another mature-age player who is ready to go and offer a battle-hardened body to the lighter Saints forward line.
Callum Wilkie – General Defender
The sole Rookie Draft selection was North Adelaide defender, Callum Wilkie. He joins teammate, Robert Young on the Saints list after an ultra impressive season as an intercept defender. He has been gradually improving each year, and was a key cog in the Roosters’ premiership this year. He will develop into that Sam Gilbert role at half-back, being a rock taking grabs off opposition forward entries. He can also drift forward if required, and reads the ball in flight really well and is clean above his head, taking contested grabs.
St Kilda clearly targeted players that will challenge for roles in the best 22 from round one, if fit. They picked up four mature agers, with Parker and Young capable of slotting into attack, while Hind and Wilkie could become crucial intercept players in defence. Throw in the big body of Jack Bytel in midfield and the key target of Max King inside 50 once he has recovered from his season-ending knee injury, and the Saints have six players who could immediately add to their side.