St Kilda champion Nick Riewoldt believes the club’s ongoing football review is “absolutely necessary”, encouraging those in charge to pull apart the side’s list and recruiting strategy.
The Saints confirmed on Thursday a review of their football department had begun last month, led by president Andrew Bassat and involving the input of former North Melbourne coach and experienced administrator David Noble.
Speaking on AFL 360 Plus, Riewoldt said he had engaged in “informal conversations” with some of the club’s hierarchy and was in favour of the review following a disappointing season that looks set to cost them a finals spot.
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“It‘s absolutely necessary, particularly around the list structure and recruiting strategy moving forward,” he said.
“This is a really critical time for St Kilda, the next 12 to 24 months, because if you look at the previous strategy; they’ve gone down the path of bringing in mature-aged players, which has elevated them to an average team, and that’s about it.
“But if you look below that, at the young talent who are gonna form the elite core of this club for the next five to 10 years, there isn’t much there. And so what is the strategy? Because it’s no good topping up with Hannebery and Hill and Jones and these guys when you haven’t got the organic growth coming from underneath. So all of that strategy needs to be looked at and pulled apart.”
In terms of what could come next, Riewoldt said some hard decisions at the trade table could be necessary to kickstart the side’s regeneration.
“I give my opinion in forums such as this, but I’d be cutting and cutting pretty hard. I think it’s critical they bring in more young talent into that group,” he said.
“You look at the under-24 (ranks), there’s Max King, there’s (Marcus) Windhager, there’s (Mitch) Owens and a few of these guys; a lot of those guys are still unknown quantities.
That’s where the organic growth’s got to come from, and they haven’t got many of those players, so I’d be trading out some of your established players.”
Co-host and four-time Hawthorn premiership star Jordan Lewis was less convinced on the review taking in the viewpoint of Noble – an external voice.
“Maybe I‘ve got more of a simplistic view on how the situation is viewed, but surely football clubs have people inside the football club that can assess themselves, assess their own department?” he said.
“I don’t understand why we always need to get external people to come in and pretty much tell us what we may already know? When it’s so obvious, it’s staring you in the face.”
Riewoldt responded: “Because the people who are there have already made decisions that might not be the right decisions, so if they review themselves, are they gonna owe up to them? Or will people protect themselves in that situation?”
“I think it‘s a smart thing to do. Gather as much information as you can, understanding if the people who are making decisions are aligned in the strategy moving forward, and if that stacks up with the entire direction of the football club. I think that’s the purpose of it.”