St Kilda great Leigh Montagna has implored the club to trade out some of its star senior players to bring more youth into the club in a “reset”, saying he thinks it “needs to go back to go forward.”
The Saints had their finals hopes dashed after losing to Brisbane, falling to 11-10 to continue St Kilda’s drop off after a promising 5-1 start to the season.
Since Round 7 St Kilda has ranked bottom six in the ‘Core Four’ stats — with the footy (15th), without the footy, clearance and post-clearance contest (all 12th).
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“They’re in a real predicament … this is 15 rounds of football, it’s a bottom-four profile, so they have really struggled with their game,” Montagna said on Fox Footy’s First Crack.
Asked if their issues lie with personnel or system, Montagna said: “I think it’s a combination of both.”
It comes after St Kilda has aggressively recruited players via trade and free agency over the last four years, bringing Paddy Ryder (35 years old), Dan Hannebery (32), Tom Campbell (31), Brad Hill, Dean Kent, Mason Wood, Brad Crouch (all 29), Jarrod Lienert, Zak Jones (both 28), Dougal Howard (27), Dan Butler, Jack Hayes (both 26) and Jack Higgins (24) into the fold.
Looking at the age profile of those players combined with the rest of the senior core, Montgana questioned how much upside the Saints’ list has.
“This is the concern for St Kilda supporters when you think about where the improvement is going to come from in the years to come,” he said.
“How much room for improvement have they got these guys? How high is their ceiling? And that’s in conjunction with their core group of Seb Ross, Tim Membrey, Jimmy Webster, Jack Sinclair, Jack Billings, Rowan Marshall and Jack Steele, who are all 26 plus years old as well.
“There’s not a lot of ceiling room within the core group of players on top of that profile … the upside is a very small margin.”
Montagna did praise young guns Max King, Cooper Sharman (both 22), Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera (20), Marcus Windhager and Mitch Owens (both 19), who’ve joined the club over the same four-year period, but said he had “question marks” on their other youngsters.
He believes St Kilda should follow Port Adelaide’s blueprint from post 2018 and trade out their players with currency to try and bounce back quickly.
“I think they need to go back to go forward,” Montagna said.
“I think they need to trade out some of those players they’ve brought in and bring in some more young talent and reset — Brad Hill, Zak Jones and maybe Jack Billings or Jade Gresham to try and get some other young talent in.
“I look at Port Adelaide — they went through a period for five years where they were mid-table — then traded Chad Wingard, Jasper Pittard and Jared Polec when they were playing good footy — Jack Hombsch, Paddy Ryder and Dougal Howard.
“They made some change and got in those young players — Zak Butters, Xavier Duursma, Connor Rozee and Mitch Georgiades — then all of a sudden played in back-t0-back preliminary finals (in 2020 and 2021).
“I think there’s some concerns there for St Kilda, they need to have a real hard think about where their list is at moving forward.”