Robert Eddy Posts

Saints who are playing for their haloes in 2011

As the premiership season nears, as much as there is the excitement of seeing players take the field, there is also the looming pressure on others to perform.\

Andrew McQualter

After a breakthrough 2009 season and a place in the club’s leadership group, the unheralded “Mini” showed us last year why he was previously unheralded with a lacklustre home and away season. Fewer tackles, fewer goals; the entire team’s pressure in the forward 50 had dropped off considerably after an amazing 2009, but McQualter’s particularly.

Though he provided some hugely important efforts in September – when it counted most – when he’s not providing a contest and putting pressure on the opposition he’s rarely doing much else. He’d be looking at a goal minimum in each game this year, and an improvement in his off-the-ball work of course, to justify his spot. The likes of David Armitage, Jack Steven and Alistair Smith aren’t direct replacements, but they provide more versatility and more attack in their games.

Paul Cahill

Also known as “the other guy” in relation to the four punished for misdemeanours/trying to get high in New Zealand, Cahill was taken late in the 2008 national draft, after Tom Lynch, Rhys Stanley and Alistair Smith. All three are likely to get game time in the senior side this year (Lynch and Stanley have obviously made their debuts, with Smith a great chance to make his own on Friday night), but Cahill hasn’t looked close in his injury-interrupted time at the Zebras.

Drafted as a tall forward, Cahill has been mentioned by Ross the Boss in pre-season interviews when focus has shifted to planned changes to the Saints’ forward line, so hopefully the club has seen something in him that the public hasn’t had the chance to.

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2011 player numbers revealed

As posted on St Kilda’s official site yesterday, the Saints’ first selection in the 2010 National Draft Jamie Cripps will be the first player to wear number 35 in a post-Robert Harvey world.

Of the other recruits, Arryn Siposs will wear number 2, Sam Crocker number 9, Ryan Gamble number 16 (Raphael Clarke has been given number 8), the elevated Tom Simpkin number 31, Dean Polo number 34 and Tom Ledger number 37. Rookie draft selections Tom Curren, Jackson Ferguson and Warrick Andreoli have been given numbers 43, 45 and 46 respectively, whilst Robert Eddy retains his number 40.

Sir Robert returns, as does another, more regular Robert.

OK, that might come across as too harsh (interestingly, Robert Eddy has played in more Grand Finals than Robert Harvey did).

Either way, both returned to Moorabbin this week. All St Kilda faithful would be happy to see Sir Robert again in red, white and black; “Harvs” had his first training session as an assistant coach after spending two years at Carlton. Meanwhile, Robert Eddy was selected in the rookie draft following his delisting at season’s end.

It’s an interesting choice. Though Eddy has many critics, his hardness at the ball and courage in general won him selection in the biggest games of the 2010 season; the club’s decision to delist him so soon afterwards confused outsiders in the first place.

It seemed he was too one-dimensional to hold a spot in a team hellbent on atoning for not one, not even two, but three unsuccessful attempts on the biggest day of all. Similar players that weren’t selected seem to have more potential upside, arguably then as they do for 2011. David Armitage, though falling short of expectations this season, has hardness and a keen goal sense; Jarryn Geary again fell out of favour late in the season after providing some solid running and contesting throughout much of the season; and goalsneak Jack Steven possesses a speed that Eddy doesn’t quite.

Eddy played his first senior game in 2008 after coming off the rookie list and some promising NAB Cup and VFL performances. He’ll have to do the same again three years later, and this task seems a lot tougher. Not only are Armitage, Geary and Steven expected to really come on soon, but other smaller players capable of midfield and forward roles such as Alistair Smith, who impressed in the 2010 NAB Cup, Nick Heyne, who debuted this year and Nick Winmar have had a year in the system behind them and are going to be improving and extending their physical capabilities in another pre-season. That’s not to mention Jamie Cripps, Tom Ledger and Sam Crocker, who have just been drafted and have been given big wraps by Ross Lyon already (of course, everyone’s hopes are high around draft time).

All this comes before the boss’s words that he’ll be looking to play taller up forward in 2011, and with Tom Lynch and Tommy Walsh now competing for a spot with the more experienced Ryan Gamble (who is still only 23), and Rhys Stanley having proved that he’s worth persevering with, any smaller players after Stephen Milne and Adam Schneider will have to be very versatile.

Eddy hit a lot of contests harder than many other Saints in the most important games of the season. But with the club hoping to improve its depth at a time when it’s hellbent on atoning for not one, not two, but three unsuccessful consecutive attempts on the biggest day of all, players will have to be more flexible and effective than they’ve been if they’re to keep their place.

Mid-Season Report, Part #4 – 10 Things We’ve Learnt So Far in 2010

In the fourth and final part of our Mid-Season Report, we take a look at what we’ve learnt about the Saints in the first 12 weeks of Season 2010. In no particular order:

Brendon Goddard is now an elite player
Goddard has become the premier utility in the game, with the ability to create damage from all parts of the ground, particularly off half-back, where he has collected 71 possessions in the past two games alone in vital roles for a challenged team.

His hot-headedness can get the better of him sometimes, seeing him give away free kicks, or, as late in Sunday’s game against the Dockers, cheap 50-metre penalties, and affect his disposal – otherwise, he is averaging career-high disposals, tackles and goals per game. Closing on “faultless”.

Goal kicking inaccuracy has cost the team, not a lack of scoring shots
This one is arguably more applicable to the way St Kilda has won. Of course, a strong case can be made for inaccuracy actually costing the team victory against Essendon in Round 8 (11.15), but then it’s to look at the chances not taken, particularly against West Coast, Richmond and Fremantle in the last two rounds that could have made those victories so much more imposing. The respective scorelines of 13.13, 14.13 and 12.13 could easily have been several goals more in each case; the last quarter against the Dockers garnered 1.6 alone.
It’s good chances going begging, too – see Clinton Jones’ miss to ice the game in the fourth term against Fremantle, by himself from 30m out as a damning example of this.
And a closer look at the stats will show that the main culprits are the midfielders, a goal source that once tapped to its full potential, would benefit the team’s dynamics enormously:
– Lenny Hayes – 2.6
– Clinton Jones – 2.3
– Nick Dal Santo – 9.7
– Leigh Montagna – 11.8
That’s a total of 24.24, or a conversion rate of only 50%; after Round 12 the AFL average was just on 57% accuracy.
And then there’s Justin Koschitzke, who has kicked 11.10 – not a good enough return for someone of his potential. That said…

…both Justin Koschitzke and the team function better with a more stable forward set-up.
A multitude of defenders were tried up forward in the wake of Nick Riewoldt’s severe hamstring injury: Sam Fisher, Zac Dawson, James Gwilt and for much briefer periods, Raphael Clarke, Jason Blake and Sam Gilbert. The balance of the defence suffered, and Justin Koschitzke was the obvious first-choice target up forward; he proved too slow and not mobile enough to play a Riewoldt-esque role, and struggled with the extra attention he attracted from opposition defenders who would otherwise be swarming around Saint Nick.
But since Rhys Stanley and Ben McEvoy have come into the side, the Saints have become that much less predictable, and Koschitzke is able to become involved in and impact games further up the ground in the knowledge there are still taller targets close to goal.

Of course, then there is the fact that…

…Stephen Milne has matured to become one of the side’s most important players.
After (another) disappointing finals series last year from “Yapper” – particularly the Grand Final performance – rumours of Milne’s demise certainly didn’t appear to be exaggerated.
But he’s stood up like few others this year, playing a massive role in St Kilda’s mission to atone for last year’s Grand Final loss, with or without Nick Riewoldt. His positioning, whether it be one-on-one, on the lead, or playing higher up the ground, has been hugely effective; he’s provided a more-than-viable option for the Saints going forward and is in career-best form.

Zac Dawson v2010 is a shadow of Zac Dawson v2009.
The game develops and changes each season, with teams able to devote some serious time to combating the previous season’s leaders’ game plans and styles.

For this reason perhaps, coupled with the unsettling of the side in the absence of Nick Riewoldt, teams have been able to isolate St Kilda’s defenders against their opponents with more frequency and potency – see the back-to-back losses to Essendon and Carlton. In these games particularly, without the extra support he enjoyed so often last year from fellow defenders, Dawson looked well out his depth – too slow against Paddy Ryder and Carlton’s small forwards, and outmuscled too easily and too often when under the ball one-out all year. He appears to lose focus on his task when under the ball, caught between trying to follow the flight of the footy and focussing on his positioning. His recent injury might prove costly to his place in the side – as other methods and players are tried, he may find himself further behind in the pecking order once fit.

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Round 12 Teams

Fremantle vs St Kilda – Teams
Subiaco, Sunday, June 13, 2.40pm (4.40pm AEST)

Named on St Kilda’s extended bench are inclusions Adam Pattison, Nick Heyne and Alistair Smith, alongside Robert Eddy, Andrew McQualter, Jarryn Geary and Rhys Stanley.

For the Dockers, Chris Mayne will miss with an ankle injury and Steven Dodd has been dropped, with Byron Schammer and Alex Silvagni certain returns. Potential inclusions on the extended bench are Tim Ruffles, Clancee Pearce and Zac Clarke, alongside Nick Suban, Nathan Fyfe, Rhys Palmer and Matthew de Boer.