St Kilda’s coaches have been left scratching their heads about why Bradley Hill’s teammates haven’t been giving the Saints wingman the ball.
High-priced off-season recruit Hill had just seven disposals as Geelong issued a reality check in thrashing St Kilda by 59 points at the Gabba on Monday night.
Hill is averaging fewer than 15 disposals per game this season, but Saints coach Brett Ratten says the ex-Fremantle star is working hard and that his teammates have to shoulder some of the responsibility for getting the speedster involved.
“Maybe if we give it to him a little bit more, when he’s free,” Ratten said.
“So when he’s out in the open, got five, 10, 20 metres on his opponent, maybe give him the ball, because there’s times there where he should get the ball and we scratch our heads saying ‘why won’t we give it to him?’
“I think he worked to some good parts of the ground and we didn’t give him the footy. I think we played a part in that. And then maybe in the third quarter it went a bit over the top and we tried to give it to him all the time. So, there’s a balance there.”
Ratten said the most disheartening element of his side’s performance was the way in which the Saints capitulated.
“We might not play the way we want to when we get beaten but we don’t want to be getting beaten by 10 goals. That’s the disappointing part of it.”
But St Kilda remain in the top eight and Ratten was upbeat about Sunday’s meeting with Essendon. He flagged returns for Zak Jones and Paddy Ryder, both of whom were managed, as well as reigning best and fairest Seb Ross.
“For us, the good part in our game this year has been every time we’ve had a hiccup, we’ve responded. We get the opportunity.”
Ratten also said the Saints were exploring flying injured midfielder Dan Hannebery and staffer Jarryd Roughead – whose wife gave birth in recent days – up to the club’s Queensland hub.
Meanwhile, Cats coach Chris Scott was already looking ahead to his side’s Friday night meeting with ladder-leaders Port Adelaide.
“It’s going to be a huge challenge against Port. They deserve their position on the ladder this year. We can’t sort of sit back and spend too much time on tonight, both as a coaching group, and as a playing group,” Scott said.
While Scott said Esava Ratugolea should return against the Power, injury-prone dasher Nakia Cockatoo is no certainty to come straight into the team even though he is set to be available for what would be his first AFL game since early 2018.
“If he does play he’d be jumping over quite a few guys that are doing a really good job at the moment and have been on the edge of the team for a long time. With some justification, we’ve got some younger players who are very disappointed they’re not in the team right at the moment.”
Daniel is an Age sports reporter