ST KILDA coach Alan Richardon has ended the club's first week of 2016 by highlighting the efforts of its five draftees and praising their work ethic.
The Saints picked up three players at the NAB AFL Draft - Jade Gresham at No.18, Brandon White (No.40) and father/son recruit Bailey Rice (No.49). They added Nick O'Kearney and Nick Coughlan at the rookie draft.
The five youngsters have not yet had the opportunity to strut their stuff in an actual game – although with the club's NAB Challenge campaign kicking off on February 20 the chance to do so isn't far away – but their coach has been left impressed regardless.
"From what we’ve seen so far they have shown a great appetite and attitude to do the work and that’s all we can ask at this stage," Richardson told the club's website
"We’ve got a really talented group, and we have been impressed with the development of their kicking skills.
"They’re still building on their conditioning, as with any young player who first steps into an AFL program, but overall they’re going well. We’ve liked what we’ve seen so far."
Jade Gresham steps out at St Kilda training. Picture: AFL Media
St Kilda entered its Christmas break on a high, announcing it would relocate back to its Moorabbin base, breaking its pre-Christmas membership record as well as signing a major sponsor in Pepper Money.
Richardson said the off-field momentum would lift the playing group, particularly its senior members.
With the club in a rebuilding phase, the coach predicted the strong work from non-playing staff would lift the spirits of those involved in the Saints' core business – playing footy.
"For the guys who have been around for three or four years, certainly for those who have been around for longer like [Nick] Riewoldt and [Leigh] Montagna, that has a real influence," he said.
"(Off-field momentum has) a really positive influence on their psyche, and whilst we’re in this rebuilding stage, it is incredibly encouraging that some significant partners and members have voted with their feet and want to get on board and be part of the journey."