Magnificent stuff from the long-awaited Blue on return!
St Kilda coach Brett Ratten has backed Bradley Hill to turn around his indifferent start to the AFL season after the Saints copped a massive loss to Richmond.
An electrifying player at his best, Hill was St Kilda’s boom recruit at the end of 2019 and had a patchy first year as a Saint, followed by an up-and-down start to 2020.
Hill had just ten disposals in St Kilda’s 86-point loss on Thursday night but Ratten backed the 27-year-old to rediscover his best form.
“No, we won’t drop Brad Hill,” Ratten said.
“It was a five-day turnaround, he didn’t perform to the level that he can, he played well last week.
“We need to back him in, and he needs to get going too. It’s like all of them.
“It’s the same as (Nick) Coffield, the same conversation I had with him this week. He needs to get going because we can’t keep giving games.
“But Hilly’s had some okay performances – the GWS game he didn’t get a heap of the ball but what he did with the ball was brilliant in really wet conditions and last week he played pretty well.
“So I think everybody’s just putting the spotlight on him, but there’s a few others as well.”
Ratten conceded Hill’s workrate had been down against Richmond but pointed out he was far from alone in that regard.
“Hilly’s a proud person and he’ll bounce back,” he said.
“At times he had to work harder – and that wasn’t just him. So you can’t just categorise him because there was a few others in that boat.”
Ratten said Thursday’s loss was “hard to swallow” and showed St Kilda weren’t as close to the benchmark as they’d thought – especially coming two games after a similar big defeat to Essendon.
“It’s a bit like snakes and ladders, isn’t it?” he said.
“We move forward three steps and then we go backward five.”
Ratten expected late withdrawals Rowan Marshall (foot) and Zak Jones (soreness) to return to face Port Adelaide, where the Saints will again expect a response.
“Footy’s a funny game and we’re definitely not where we want to be and we’ll cop the hits – and we should cop the hits for that performance again,” he said.
“It’s nearly the same sort of message from two weeks ago. We have to rebound here and there’s a lot of footy to be played.”