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April 29, 2021

Paddy back as Saints seek fast fixBradley Hill has been in the spotlight for underperforming this season. Picture: Mike Owen/Getty Images

Filed under: Outdoors — admin @ 4:45 am

St Kilda coach Brett Ratten rejected suggestion his players weren’t working hard enough but conceded they have lacked urgency and needed to remedy their poor on-field communication fast.

The Saints, after back-to-back beltings in the past two weeks, have come under severe scrutiny, including accusations of laziness after losing the uncontested possession count by more than 140 against Port Adelaide last week.

Ratten’s men have a chance to restart their season against Hawthorn on Saturday and will do so with ruckman Paddy Ryder set to make his 2021 debut.

Jack Billings, Jimmy Webster and Bradley Hill have also been cleared to take on the Hawks, but backman Jake Carlisle is in doubt after leaving training early on Thursday with a back complaint.

Ryder hasn’t played a senior game since last year’s finals, and Ratten conceded the star big man wouldn’t be “perfect” against the Hawks.

“It‘s been a while for (Ryder) since he’s played senior footy,” Ratten said.

“He won‘t be perfect, he’ll make a few blues and things like that, but to have our ruck combination out there will give us a lot of confidence around the midfield.”

Ratten again jumped to the defence of big-money recruit Hill and said while old issues were resurfacing, the speedster wasn’t on his own in underperforming.

“I think at times he‘s (Hill) been in good spots and we haven’t given him the ball, and then other times he’s had the ball and other players have been in good spots,” Ratten said.

“With our group at the moment, everyone‘s trying to fix it themselves, and we need them to actually think of others and be in that team mode.

“Their agenda is the right one, they want to do it, they want to be the one to kickstart us, but it‘s not going to help us (overall), we need to do it collectively.”

Ratten said he’d noticed a significant and positive shift in training this week, with the players addressing the major areas of the coach’s concern, which weren’t just workrate.

“A little bit more intensity, without the ball, with the ball, and a bit more urgency around our communication and what we’re trying to achieve,” Ratten said.

“We were slow (against Port), and as we spoke about, the communication around the ball and behind the ball was not up to the level that we’re after. I think it’s sometimes just being switched on for longer.

“We’ve had a few weeks that we haven’t been at the level that we want to. There’s been periods of the games where we’ve played some all right footy.”


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