In 2019 the AFL saw an unpredecented phenomenon. After only a single coaching sacking in the previous two seasons, four coaches left their clubs mid-year, three replaced by caretakers who would eventually be promoted to the ongoing position.
St Kilda’s preparation for the 2019 AFL season has suffered another blow with important defender Jake Carlisle labouring with a back injury that may need surgery.
The news comes a day after the club revealed midfield playmaker Jack Steven would step away from the game to deal with a mental health issue.
Carlisle has been troubled by a back injury in recent years, which has worsened and now involves disc issues.
Saints football chief Simon Lethlean confirmed surgery is a very real possibility, with an operation likely to sideline the 27-year-old for several months.
“He’s going to need to see a specialist, things aren’t improving,” Lethlean told SEN on Wednesday.
“He hasn’t been able to train properly for most of January and it’s not getting better.
“We need to assess whether surgery is going to be an option and if it is, that’s going to mean a significant chunk of his season interrupted.
“I think if you are going under the knife, you are certainly looking at three, four, five months. We are not quite there yet but we certainly haven’t found a different alternative that’s making it better right now.”
St Kilda are facing a make-or-break season for coach Alan Richardson, who hasn’t guided his side to a finals berth in five years at the helm.
Steven, once touted as a future club captain, was not included in this year’s leadership group.
The 28-year-old informed his teammates on Tuesday that he would take some time off.
“Jack’s going to go away for about 10 days to spend some time in a different environment with someone he trusts and just do some things that he likes,” Lethlean said.
“It will include some fishing, golf and he’s taking a training program with him and if he wants us to send one of our high-performance staff to do some work with him, we will.
“One thing he does not want to do is miss games, so he’s torn about how fast he can get back into it.
“He loves playing and loves turning it on and that’s what gets him going. He’ll be back as soon as he can, but that’s the process. We really hope it’s in 10 days, but it might be longer.”
St Kilda kick off their premiership season against Gold Coast at Marvel Stadium on Sunday, March 24.