After a horror season in which the Saints could manage only 5* wins, the generational change has continued at pace at Moorabbin.

Ruckman Ben McEvoy and 3 time all-Australian Nick dal Santo have followed Luke Ball and Brendon Goddard to greener pastures, while Milne, Kossie and Blake have put their collective feet up for a well earned retirement.  All of a sudden, the class of 2009 / 10 is looking considerably smaller.  Riewoldt, Montagna and Hayes remain the only bona fide stars from an era which Saints fans need to consign to the history books as soon as possible, to preserve individual and collective sanity.

I, like many others, still carry a lump in my throat and heavy heart when I think what could have been.  But that time is long gone and the sooner the new breed emerges the better.  Chris Pelchen was not recruited to win friends; he was bought to the club to help win us a flag.  The fact that within a week of McEvoy leaving so many young players were publicly stating their wish to join the Saints and there was no player revolt or exodus, shows that the hysterical journo and supporter reaction was premature.

Like George Steinbrenner said in Seinfeld, ‘It’s exactly what the organisation needed … We wanna look to the future, we gotta tear down the past.’  Especially, Saints fans, if that past is about coming 2nd.  Ben McEvoy was not exactly ‘a fat old man, with little-girl legs,’ though he wasn’t the most dominant ruckman either.  He could take a handy intercept mark and kick a goal, but ruckman these days need to be doing more.  Longer and Hickey are still very green, but you don’t go top ten in the draft these days unless you have something going for you.

2013 Wins (5) – GWS, Carlton, Melbourne, Gold Coast, Fremantle*

2013 Losses (17) – Gold Coast, Richmond, Essendon, Sydney, Collingwood, Adelaide, Western Bulldogs, Nth Melbourne, WCE, Richmond, Fremantle, Carlton, Port Adelaide, Geelong, Brisbane Lions, Hawthorn, Sydney

Jimmy Webster was one youngster to impress in 2013
Jimmy Webster was one youngster to impress fans in 2013

Out

J Gram (delisted)

S Milne (ret)

J Koschitzke (ret)

J Blake (ret)

B McEvoy (Haw)

N dal Santo (Nth Melb)

T Ledger (delisted)

J Staley (delisted)

J Lever (delisted)

In

S Savage (Haw)

L Delaney (Nth)

J Bruce (GWS)

B Longer (Bris)

On the way?

M Weller (Gold Coast)

D Jolly (Coll)

Draft picks – 3, 18, 19

The Saints will play Brisbane Lions in Wellington 2014
The Saints will play Brisbane Lions in Wellington 2014

2014 a ‘gap year?’

Talk of the Saints taking a ‘gap year’ in 2014 really annoys me.  It may be a handy catchphrase for Dwayne Russell to repeat ad nauseam on 3AW, but to suggest that the Saints are simply writing off 2014 is disgraceful.  Not only may we be on top of the ladder after round 2 (see the 2014 fixture here) but I can see maybe 7 wins next year, up to 10 with an ounce of luck.

Saints fans should be optimistic about the future; our backline should be considerably stronger next year with the additions of Delaney and Bruce and another pre season for Simpkin and Roberton.  They may not be stars, but we simply need bodies in there for now.  Furthermore, Shane Savage and Gold Coast’s Maverick Weller (if he comes) will add pace to our midfield.  Jack Steven will be another year better, Armitage is showing some consistency, while Ross, Newmes, Webster, Murdoch, Saunders and Dunnell have all shown glimpses.

Captain Nick Riewoldt will again carry a heavy load in 2014
Captain Nick Riewoldt will again carry a heavy load in 2014

Up forward is where our biggest problems now lie.  Riewoldt will need to deliver again, though Tom Lee did show some promising signs towards the end of this year that he can provide a valuable support.  Maister will be back, but is handy at best, Saad will be a big loss if he is suspended and that will mean the injury prone Schneider will have to play more games.  Miler and Dennis-Lane have not been convincing and Siposs and Stanley will both take time, but there are no promises with either of them.  More goals will need to come from the midfield.

Nevertheless, the Saints will be competitive in 2014.  There were a few heavy losses this year, which comes with a young side, but there were games where only one or two quarters cost us.  We played some great footy throughout the year and as consistency develops, the wins will inevitably come.

Saints’ best 22 for 2014

B

J Bruce

L Delaney

T Simpkin

HB

J Gwilt

S Fisher

S Dempster

C

L Montagna

J Steven

J Webster

HF

S Savage

N Riewoldt

B Maister

F

A Schneider

T Lee

A Siposs

R

T Hickey

L Hayes

D Armitage

I

B Longer

D Roberton

J Geary

 

R Stanley

E

S Gilbert

F Ray

S Ross

 

J Newmes

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