The Roar
The Roar

AFL
Advertisement

With or without Weitering, the Saints need to splurge to stay relevant. Here's who they should chase

Autoplay in... 6 (Cancel)
Up Next No more videos! Playlist is empty -
Replay
Cancel
Next
Expert
16th May, 2024
58
2856 Reads

It’s simple for the Saints – if you have the money, spend it.

Rumours of the club putting forward a $12 million, eight-year deal to Jacob Weitering emerged this week and whether that figure is right or not, it’s clear that St Kilda is sitting on a war chest.

Generally, this can be somewhat fraught with danger in the sense that clubs can just overpay “nice” players who happen to be available at any given time, rather than preparing and planning for the right guy or two.

While Weitering won’t move across, he is the perfect player for the Saints to have asked the question to and if they’re going to try and send shockwaves through the competition, they’ve picked the right player to use.

Jacob Weitering and Toby Greene.

Jacob Weitering. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

At the start of the season, it felt like the Saints had a list that could compete – “don’t sleep on one of the AFL’s most exciting teams” was something written in this regular Friday spot.

Well, it turns out Ross Lyon and his own team slept on themselves and have continued to do so through a third of the season. Voluntarily playing this snoozefest style of footy is certainly an interesting approach, particularly when the talent is, in fact, quite good and the current output, while being met with scathing list analyses, can be fixed with a reasonable approach.

Regardless, the Saints really aren’t that far away from being a September team and while they, more than most clubs, need a marquee player, now is the time they have money available and now is the time to go after players that can sharpen them up.

Advertisement

Support your AFL team in style – check out The Oodie! They’ve got Adult Oodies for all 18 teams as well as Kids Oodies and even Dog Oodies available in selected teams.  Made from the softest, premium fabrics they are the comfiest memorabilia you’ll ever wear!  #GetYourOodieOn

Before jumping into a few names, it’s important to note that in all likelihood, players remain at their current clubs and their team’s current trajectory might be more evidently positive than the Saints.

You can’t just cherry-pick the best talent to go to your club, particularly not interstate clubs to a Victorian club.
To any fans of such clubs, don’t be disrespected by any names listed. They’d suit the Saints but they probably won’t leave. Also, money talks.

Other than Weitering, who is due to be a free agent in 2025, there are other players who fit the bill and warrant big approaches from the Saints in the same timeframe.

Ross Lyon St Kilda Saints

Ross Lyon. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Andrew Brayshaw and Luke Davies-Uniacke headline that list; you don’t need to think too deeply to consider the quality improvement and dynamic midfield shift that they would provide.

Charlie Ballard’s an interesting one. Clearly, as per his interviews, he loves playing on the Gold Coast and for its representative club, but under Damien Hardwick, his role has changed a bit and his form has tapered.

Advertisement

He’s an intercept defender, an elite reader of the play. He’s getting by decently playing a lesser role, Mac Andrew has really come in and taken over that intercepting spot, but the sky’s the limit with Ballard.

The Saints need an accountable key defender that frees everyone else up, hence going after one of the top two of this current decade, but there’s versatility in Ballard’s game and a reading of the play that exceeds all on the current list.

Also, if there’s one thing that the Saints do relatively well, it’s defence. It’s not necessarily the biggest need.

Already, you can sense the upcoming headlines in some respects when it comes to the likes of Darcy Fogarty and Cam Rayner. News outlets, don’t even both with Sam Taylor and Oscar Allen.

The risk with discussing 2024 free agents is the fact they could re-sign any day, but if the Saints are going to be sitting on all this money, then they can make some moves now, as opposed to one, unlikely big one.

Maybe there’s some bias involved, but Josh Battle’s a really good player. Certainly if he were available, I’d want my club to chase him. Re-signing him and having his versatility into the future, that’s good for business. Sometimes though, a relationship in the AFL has reached its limits.

Advertisement

We should expect them to re-sign the likes of Mitch Owens and Marcus Windhager this season; Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera to a longer-term deal perhaps.

But in terms of using the money to chase opposition players, two players emerge as pretty obvious fits who’d appreciate a healthy pay packet.

Hugh McCluggage hasn’t yet re-signed despite the Lions having a lengthy deal in front of him. He’s a perennial All-Australian tease, a player who for some reason is perceived as an outside runner despite thriving as an inside midfielder who can spread easily from congestion.

There’ll be a number of clubs wanting to secure the service of the 26-year-old and rightfully so. From his perspective, there’s the monetary aspect that he can hold out for, but there’s also the fact he has been relegated to the third banana in that Lions midfield, which seems to be the ceiling on him at the club.

For as good as Jack Steele is, the Saints can put forward a big contract and guarantee McCluggage to be the main midfield guy. From St Kilda’s point of view, they don’t have anyone quite with that inside/outside work rate, who can tackle as well as he can, find space and who is always ranked well above average in score involvements.

The star Lion is the sort of player that immediately raises the floor. The Saints could price Brisbane out of matching and get him for free, to go along with their own high draft pick.

Advertisement

The other player may not be as obvious a target, but Cameron Zurhaar should be of significant interest. There’s a two-fold effect here.

Naturally, he’s an attacking talent. When he’s used as a stay-at-home forward, he’s ranked well above average in all the key areas and is a marking threat inside 50.

Cameron Zurhaar kicks a goal.

Cameron Zurhaar. (Photo by Jason McCawley/AFL Photos/via Getty Images )

This season, despite the situation at North, he’s putting up career-high tackling numbers inside 50. Obviously, he’s not a key forward but he’s a significant threat in a way the other non-keys at the Saints simply aren’t.

That’s purposefully framed because in the end, the crown jewel of St Kilda’s future midfield should be Mitch Owens and even though he hasn’t got the tank or the body to necessarily be in that role permanently now, it’s time they got him used to using his power and breakaway speed in clearance situations.

At the moment, he’s used rarely there. Really, he’s more of a backup ruck when featured in stoppages and he’s too important as a forward threat to move him.

Therefore, it couldn’t be criticised if the Saints went after a known commodity who can plausibly kick 35-40 goals that could speed up the development of Owens.

Advertisement

Now, if the Saints are competing with Sydney for Zurhaar, good luck, you’d rather spend bigger on McCluggage in the end, but there’s no harm in trying.

The Saints have opened up the option to grab someone from the mid-season draft, they’ll have a high draft pick and the existing young talent is way better than many give them credit for. The methodology in the tactics is really the concern.

So if you have the money, why not spend it?

That’s seemingly the position the Saints are in and while they should absolutely float big contracts to as many stars as they can unofficially reach out to, there are a couple of nice targets in 2024 that can immediately raise the floor of the Saints.

The Weitering rumours won’t eventuate, that amount of money might not even be accurate.

But the Saints are sitting on a war chest that simply must be cracked open to get the September ball rolling.

Advertisement
Adelaide Crows
v
Sydney Swans
4.10
1.22
PlayUp
AFL : Head To Head
Sat, 15 Jun 2024, 19:32
North Melbourne Kangaroos
v
Collingwood Magpies
7.00
1.10
PlayUp
AFL : Head To Head
Sun, 16 Jun 2024, 13:00
Greater Western Sydney Giants
v
Port Adelaide Power
1.52
2.55
PlayUp
AFL : Head To Head
Sun, 16 Jun 2024, 16:00
* Odds Correct At Time Of Posting. Check PlayUp Website For Latest Odds
Imagine what you could be buying instead.
For free and confidential support call 1800 858 858 or visit gamblinghelponline.org.au
close