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No flip-flop on No.1 draft pick, say Saints

Patrick McCartin at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary on the Gold Coast - ${keywords}
Patrick McCartin at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary on the Gold Coast
I think there's also something nice about the player finding out on the night and having his name called out
Ameet Bains on whether St Kilda will let the draft cat out of the bag
ST KILDA has denied having a change of heart over which player the club will take with the No.1 selection in Thursday night's NAB AFL Draft.

All the speculation leading into this week linked explosive midfielder Christian Petracca with the Saints, and many considered it was a done deal that he would head to Seaford.

But there have been late suggestions that imposing key forward Paddy McCartin is the Saints' chosen one instead.

AFL.com.au's draft expert Callum Twomey's Phantom Draft, published on Tuesday night, predicted that McCartin would be taken at pick No. 1.

While the Saints have admitted they found it incredibly difficult to split the talented pair, chief operating officer Ameet Bains said on Wednesday they decided who they would take earlier this week.

He was adamant that the club had not flipped on its initial choice.

"There's been speculation whether we've changed our minds on various bits and pieces – that's not true, we've worked our way through and come to a decision," Bains said.

"We like both of them enormously.

"It's been a very thorough process. I guess we've been in the very fortunate position of knowing we get who we choose.

"We've been able to take our time and make an assessment."

The two players are yet to find out which one will become a Saint on Thursday night, with McCartin revealing this week he had not spoken to the club recently.

The Saints could leave both McCartin and Petracca in the dark ahead of the draft and let them find out when the rest of the football world does.

"We're deciding whether we will [tell them]. If we do, it might be on the day of the draft," Bains said.

"I think there's also something nice about the player finding out on the night and having his name called out."

On Wednesday the Saints left for the Gold Coast, where the football industry and hopeful draftees are gathering ahead of the draft.

Bains said while they were generally relaxed, knowing the tough call between the two top candidates was made after they also considered midfielder Angus Brayshaw, they had invested plenty of time into preparation for Thursday night. 

The type of player they have chosen will impact on who they target with their next selections at No. 21 and 22. 

In deciding between McCartin and Petracca, they considered a range of factors including football talent, off-field characteristics and career projection. 

Bains admitted the paucity of tall forwards and their value in the competition was significant in their thinking.

"The highly documented examples of Tom Boyd recently and Lance Franklin and the price that has to be paid for those guys is an important consideration," he said. 

"You look at our setup and our needs and certainly it's a factor, but we've chosen to look at that as a final factor rather than it being our guiding principle.

"We'll pick the best player who we feel meets all of our values and criteria."

Bains said ex-Adelaide pair Jared Petrenko and Shaun McKernan, and former Gold Coast defender Jeremy Taylor, were more likely to be considered for rookie list spots next week than a pick on Thursday night. 

The three delisted players have been training with the Saints since the start of their pre-season.