The Roar
The Roar


Dylan Shiel is not St Kilda’s knight in shining armour

Dylan Shiel of the Giants. (Photo by Adam Trafford/AFL Media/Getty Images)
Roar Guru
4th October, 2018
1634 Reads

Greater Western Sydney star midfielder Dylan Shiel has allegedly been offered a staggering deal from St Kilda.

The Saints are after the services of Shiel for six years and have supposedly offered him more than $8 million dollars.

That offer from the Saints would land Shiel firmly in the top 10 bracket of highest paid players – and in my mind, may just doom St Kilda to another decade of obscurity, at least.

St Kilda have problems. Lots of them. The forward 50 struggles to apply pressure at all and with the ball in hand doesn’t convert. Down back when the going gets tough, they leak goals like it’s going out of style. The midfield has no problem racking up the raw numbers – they just do next to nothing with it when they execute.

It’s easy to see why St Kilda may view Shiel as a bit of a silver bullet solution.

Shiel’s numbers this year: averaging 25.9 disposals but just 9.3 are contested, only six goals for the year, 4.5 clearances and 3.4 tackles and 4.7 inside 50s.

Shiel’s highlights for the year: ranked 9th for total inside 50s, ranked third for total goal assists, ranked 17h for total metres gained and ranked 20th for total clangers.

St Kilda in those zones? As a team? 14th for inside 50s, 14th for goal assists, 14th for clangers.

A poor return, so Shiel should hopefully boost those zones.


St Kilda’s key weaknesses? Last for contested possessions, 135.5 per game. Last for clearances, 33.3 per game. Second last for tackles, 60.0 per game – beating only Brisbane who had 58.0 per game. Third last for tackles inside 50, 9.4 per game. Second last for hitouts, 29.5 per game.

All areas that Shiel is unlikely to boost. But none of these – none of them, are the real reason why Shiel isn’t worth the kind of money St Kilda is throwing his way.

Dylan Shiel

Dylan Shiel. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

Heading into the season St Kilda preached about the dawn of a new age. The Saints were shooting for a spot in the top four and believed that they had the weapons they needed to get there.

Instead, St Kilda finished the season in 16th spot with just four wins – locked with Gold Coast on the same tally and barely leading Carlton, one of the most performing sides in history.

It was a remarkable drop off for the Saints who, in 2017 finished in 11th spot with 11 wins and seemed to have all the hallmarks of a side ready to climb, climb, climb.

Since taking over in 2014, Alan Richardson has coached St Kilda to the following finishes. 18th (2014), 14th (2015), 9th (2016) then 11th and now 16th.

The Saints are clearly panicking. The plan has fallen apart. In October of 2017 the Saints extended Richardson’s contract until 2020 and they can’t afford to sack him now. There’s no real big fishes in the pond as far as senior coaches go and they’ve already invested so much into his vision as it is. Sunken cost fallacy anyone?

Alan Richardson

Coach Alan Richardson of the Saints. (AAP Image/Tracey Nearmy)

So what changed between 2017 and 2018? Well, around the league a lot did. But within the four walls at St Kilda, only one important thing changed.

The retirement of skipper Nick Reiwoldt. Reiwoldt said farewell to the game and with him left 336 games of experience and more than 700 goals. That void is yet to be replaced and Dylan Shiel is not the man to do it.

Shiel is a stunning footballer, but a leader he is not – not so far at least. Phil Davis and Callan Ward have been running the show as the league’s longest serving co-captains for years and years now. Joining Davis and Ward is Josh Kelly, named vice captain this year with Stephen Coniglio – while Matt de Boer rounds out the group. Not listed: Dylan Shiel.

This roll of the dice for the services of a fringe A grade player is purely a knee-jerk reaction to a huge drop off from year to year. The Saints are crying out for leadership.

The man for St Kilda was Gold Coast’s departing co-captain Tom Lynch. Sadly – he’s always been destined for Richmond.

A wise man once said ‘more is lost to indecision than wrong decision. Indecision is the thief of opportunity. It will steal you blind.’

It looks like St Kilda have taken this wisdom to heart but in this case it really doesn’t apply. Throwing all your money at the next best thing is just going to doom the Saints to more mediocrity.


For the hopes and dreams of Saints fans in the future – let’s hope Shiel waves the money away and heads to Hawthorn instead.