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Saints intent on being competitive in NAB Challenge

AFL 2014 Training - St Kilda 171214
Saints football manager Jamie Cox watches on during training
We absolutely need to be competitive, and I think those habits will be created through the NAB Challenge
Saints football manager Jamie Cox
ST KILDA will put a premium on competitive performances through the NAB Challenge, pledging to play its best available team and chase pre-season wins.
 
While other clubs may use the NAB Challenge to blood new players and manage their stars, the Saints will try to form winning habits after their four-win 2014 campaign.
 
With forward Arryn Siposs (shoulder) the only Saint ruled out of round one at this stage, football manager Jamie Cox said the club expected to field close to its best team through the pre-season.
 
"We'll try and win those games and we'll try to put the best team – the most ready team that is available – on the park," Cox told AFL.com.au.
 
"We think it's important to show our members that we're going to be competitive this year. Therefore if blokes are ready then they'll be available to play.
 
"We absolutely need to be competitive, and I think those habits will be created through the NAB Challenge.
 
"That's an important thing for our club, to show that we are going to be competitive week in, week out."
 
Coach Alan Richardson would be encouraged leading into the NAB Challenge, with the Saints' rehab group shrinking and more players in full training.
 
Ruckman Tom Hickey (knee) is about to start a full program, while tall defender Sam Gilbert (foot) is being primed for round one.   
 
Midfielder Jack Steven continues to be managed after playing through a stress reaction in his thigh last year, but the 24-year-old is on track to play solid minutes through the NAB Challenge in preparation for round one.
 
For those Saints in full training, there has been an increase in match play, with the team scheduled to play one intra-club match, seven days before its opening NAB Cup fixture against the Brisbane Lions on February 28.
 
"That'll be our main match hit-out before the NAB Challenge, but there will be at least a couple of other [match practice sessions] per week," Cox said. 
 
"It's important for us to continually work on Alan's game plan and continue to ensure it's getting better and better rehearsed.
 
"We've got a very young list and a very inexperienced list, but we also won't shy away from the fact we need to be competitive.
 
"We need to cover that distance very quickly and ensure that we are competing in all games very quickly."