2012 St Kilda player reviews – part 1 of 4

By Tom Briglia

Under Ross Lyon the Saints played so many unassuming role players that it felt like two or three whipping boys were in the side in any given week. Regulars and semi-regulars such as Raph Clarke, Robert Eddy, Andrew McQualter, Brett Peake, Clinton Jones and Jason Blake were often criticised for their rather unidimensional performances.

Scott Watters’ game style has seen versatility as the order of the day, with an equal emphasis on swift attack and fanatic full-ground defense. It didn’t always pay off – a lack in skill often brough the former undone and the latter wasn’t always present – but player-by-player it felt there was more to be optimistic about going forward.

In number order, starting from 1 to 12:

1 – Jason Gram
Halfway through the season I dare say we all would have been happy to see the last Jason Gram Special sliced from the wing, but he ended playing some very good games towards the end of the year. Still doesn’t have a huge defensive side to his game but I think Swat’s game plan suits him a little more. Given his history and the stage of his career, going into 2013 fully fit will be hugely important for him.

2 – Arryn Siposs
My Favourite Player played only 11 games in 2012 but did more than enough to have us hugely excited about his future. A great field kick and a strong mark, he did it at both ends of the ground and demonstrated he could be the club’s go-to utility over the next decade. Right now, he could be anything.

3 – Jack Steven
Pleasingly, Jack stayed busy in 2012 after his breakout season last year. He was probably more effective in games too, and was able to display more of his pace and fit into Swat’s game style. Still probably not in the top three midfielders (and that’s not a bad thing for the team) but it would be great if he took his game to another level. After the faux-high incident at the new home last year he planned on turning up to a mid-season morning recovery session drunk and got caught by the fuzz instead. He’s got to change that.

4 – Clinton Jones
The resident puppy dog still has a place in this side according to Swat, but I’m not exactly sure what it is considering he hasn’t improved his kicking since the age of nine. He’s certainly not a bad player; he knows how to find the ball and has one of the best defensive sides of anyone on the list but his kicking remains a liability. Considering what Swat said though, I’d be surprised if he’s delisted.

5 – Ben McEvoy
The 2017 premiership captain probably didn’t improve to the point we thought he might this year after his great 2011. He still struggles in the ruck at times and would be handier if he kicked more goals but he continued to drop back and help out the defence to great effect. Big men typically take longer to develop, of course, and he’s probably still a couple of years away from his best. With Rhys on the up, should the Saints get Jonathan Giles then things might really get interesting in the ruck division.

6 – Seb Ross
The only Ross at St Kilda played one game in the dead rubber period of the season but that was to be expected, particularly in a midfield that rarely saw injuries and had Jack and Armo continuing to improve. From the little we’ve seen of him he has a very no-nonsense demeanour and seems to take things very seriously which I think is a good thing. Showed some good things at Sandy and hopefully has a big future at the club.

7 – Lenny Hayes
Wowee etc.

8 – Raphael Clarke
Not sure if he’ll survive between now and list lodgements later on. A really popular guy by all reports and I don’t question his commitment on the field for a second (see several great efforts against the Crows) but just doesn’t always have the awareness required at AFL level. Injuries aside, three games in 2012 probably wasn’t enough to warrant a spot on the list next year given the dearth of tall mid-sized defenders, particularly with Jackson Ferguson coming through.

9 – Sam Crocker
One of four players the club didn’t even bother building the suspense for, delisted as soon as the Tip Rat had saluted the Carlton members. Didn’t seem to have bad skills, was just too slender which made things hard from the outset and in the short time he was at the club he disappeared from the face of the earth.

10 – Daniel Markworth
The Markworth Report was one of the many big plans Rich and I had for RWB in 2012 (on a more personal level I was simply hoping to become Demonblog), although hopes for several senior games were beyond even that. Showed some real glimpses at Sandy but still pretty raw. Should play a few games next year.

AND WHY NOT WITH GLIMPSES OF BRILLIANCE LIKE THIS?:

11 – Leigh Montagna
I don’t think anyone would have factored him into best and fairest calculations until Swat said towards the end of the season he’d be in the top two or three (I still didn’t agree with it but I dare say I’ll trust the coach of the St Kilda Football Club over myself). He didn’t have the huge possession counts that he did in some games in the past three or four years but was consistent. Talk of being used as trade bait floated around during the year but he re-signed on a two-year deal.

12 – Nick Riewoldt
A return to form after he more than anyone else (except maybe BJ) hated themselves and everything in 2011. Unlucky to injure his knee late but he had a big head-start on the pre-season so hopefully he can get the most out of the summer again and back it up in 2013, captain or not.