Nick Dal Santo under pressure against Collingwood in round six
ST KILDA coach Scott Watters has backed Nick Dal Santo to respond to his early season struggles against taggers and meet the likely challenge of Carlton's Andrew Carrazzo on Monday night at Etihad Stadium.
Dal Santo has been given extra attention this season, with Collingwood's Brent Macaffer holding him to just 16 disposals last Friday night.
Watters said he thought the effort shown by both Del Santo and fellow veteran Stephen Milne last week had been OK.
"Dal has to work through the opposition pressure. That's part of the game. He's been through that many times over 12 years. He'll respond," Watters said on Wednesday.
"I haven't said it's a form slump either. I just think he gets quality players – Carrazzo will probably go to him this week and that's another challenge for him to absorb.
"Lenny Hayes often gets tagged, Dal gets tagged – it won't be long and Jack Steven and David Armitage will be attracting that sort of attention as well.
"That's part of football."
Watters dismissed any suggestion the Saints would look to trade Dal Santo at season's end and said he was "a respected and required" player who deserved the chance to turn around his early season form.
"This is a tough game and I'm not going to hang players. The trial by media that occurs when a player has a bad performance … if we did that with every player I'd end up with 10 ready to play," he said.
"Players need the opportunity to respond, they need to be able to work through form slumps, they've got to train hard and work hard to get through that.
"There's a reason why Nick Dal Santo has been playing for 11 or 12 years. He hasn't always been in great form.
"You work your way through your slumps and that's what good players are all about."
The Saints have to make three changes this week with Lenny Hayes (hamstring), Sam Gilbert (knee) and Justin Koschitzke (suspension) out of last week's selected side.
While Watters said there were a number of players pushing for selection from the VFL, young forward Spencer White wasn't one of them just yet.
"He's got a fair bit of work to do on his game," he said.
"Whilst there's a couple of highlights from Spencer and we're all excited by that, there's a lot of work to be done on his game before he's ready to play."
Watters said he liked the concept of Monday night football, as long as the break after the game was "decent", and that the Saints would benefit from the lengthy gap since last Friday night's clash with Collingwood.
"I think it's good for us. We've so far had a pretty heavy travel schedule … Gold Coast, New Zealand, Canberra, Adelaide in another couple of weeks," he said.
"To get a break at some point, you take it when it's there, there's no doubt about it."
Jennifer Phelan is a reporter for AFL Media. Follow her on Twitter @AFL_JenPhelan