2022 AFL Season Preview
AFL9 Mar 2022

2022 St Kilda Saints AFL Season Preview

The Saints were a picture of inconsistency in 2021 after an impressive 2020 campaign. At some points in the season, the Saints looked like a top eight team, but their worst often prevailed and kept them sitting in 10th spot as the regular season drew to a close.

Based on early expectations, the Saints will be looking for redemption this season and have welcomed plenty of new faces into the fold, but must fix their consistency issues or they’ll be rising no higher on the ladder.

Recruitment report

In: Tom Campbell, Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera, Mitchito Owens, Marcus Windhager, Oscar Adams, Jack Peris, Josiah Kyle, Jack Hayes

Out: Jake Carlisle, James Frawley, Shaun McKernan, Dylan Roberton, Oscar Clavarino, Sam Alabakis, Luke Dunstan, Paul Hunter, Jack Lonie

2021 Rankings

Tackles - 3rd

Tackles Inside 50 - 4th

Hit-outs - 4th

Centre Clearances - 17th

Shots On Goal - 14th

Shot Efficiency - 15th

Star player: Jack Steele

The St Kilda skipper is undeniably the most important Saint to step on the field each week. The two-time All Australian has transformed his game into that of a star of the competition and only continued to improve in 2021, averaging 29.2 disposals, 8.5 tackles and 6.3 clearances per game.

Even in moments of St Kilda inconsistency, Steele works hard around the ground to provide opportunity and is invaluable for the building side both for his on-field talents and off-field leadership. Heading into season number seven, Steele is primed to improve his game even more as he takes lone charge of the Saints.

One to watch: Jade Gresham

An injury-riddled few years has left Gresham able to play just 14 games in two seasons. The resilient Saint looks to be in good shape heading into 2022, ready to finally get a consistent run of games and capitalise on the potential the young gun has shown glimpses of throughout his career.

The 2018 leading goalkicker is sure to make an impact on the scoreboard once back in the side, but is certain to spend time rotating through the midfield, with the Saints recognising his speed as a valuable asset. Two years of little football has left the young Saint sitting eagerly on the sidelines, with 2022 shaping up to be the year he recognises his potential.

Under pressure: Jack Billings

Billings has been no stranger to expectations throughout his time at the Saints, originally drafted with pick three in the 2013 AFL draft. His 144 games in red, black and white have tantalised Saints fans but the midfielder is yet to produce a consistent run of elite form.

Averaging 20.1 disposals and 1.1 clearances per game in 2021, Billings failed to reach the highs that saw him awarded a top-four finish in the best and fairest in 2019. Rejecting the allure of free agency to sign a new deal taking him through to the end of 2025 late last year, Billings will be playing this season without the distraction of contract discussions, but heading into season number nine, must finally find some consistency to repay the faith.

2022 Expectations

The Saints have plenty of room for improvement after a tenth place finish in 2021, but loom as a middle of the table side. Despite drafting new young talent, St Kilda still lack depth around the ground and are prone to lapses in concentration throughout games.

The forward line duo of Max King and Tim Membrey has the potential to create plenty of headaches for opposition backlines, but the two will be relying on an understrength midfield to create opportunities.

With a moderately difficult fixture the Saints will need to make a strong start to the season to have a chance at being in contention for the eight but will likely struggle as they reconcile with their biggest impediment, being short on elite talent.

Five matches to watch

Round 1 vs. Collingwood, Marvel Stadium, Friday March 19

Round 7 vs. Port Adelaide, Cazlays Stadium, Saturday April 30

Round 14 vs. Sydney, SCG, TBC

Round 16 vs. Carlton, Marvel Stadium, TBC

Round 23 vs. Sydney, Marvel Stadium, TBC

All time games

  1. Robert Harvey - 383
  2. Nick Riewoldt - 336
  3. Nathan Burke - 323
  4. Stewart Loewe - 321
  5. Barry Breen - 300

All time goals

  1. Tony Lockett - 898
  2. Bill Mohr - 735
  3. Nick Riewoldt - 718
  4. Stewart Loewe - 594
  5. Stephen Milne - 574

2021 Stats

MOST DISPOSALS: Jack Steele - 642

MOST TACKLES: Jack Steele - 185

MOST CLEARANCES: Jack Steele - 138

MOST MARKS: Tim Membrey - 151

MOST GOALS: Max King - 38