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AFL 2016 Rd 08 - West Coast v St Kilda

St Kilda endured a torrid 2016 season outside Victoria, losing all five of their games heavily

Was that offence, was that defence, was it the contest, was it our starts?

ST KILDA will tinker with its interstate travel routine this season in an attempt to address a diabolical recent record outside Victoria.

The Saints ventured away from Melbourne five times in 2016 and didn't win once, losing by an average margin of 53 points.

Alan Richardson's men have been widely tipped to play finals this season after finishing just outside the eight on percentage last year.

But the coach knows interstate trips are an area that simply must improve if that's to happen. 

St Kilda's maverick travel approach to change fortunes

"We just didn't play good footy interstate. Was that offence, was that defence, was it the contest, was it our starts?" Richardson said.

"Were the guys in a really good head space and playing with the sort of energy and spirit that we expect of the Saints?

"Out of those questions came some answers and there will be some really minor shifts in terms of the way that we prepare.

"We'll try to keep it as close as possible to how we prepare in Melbourne.

"We know it's unrealistic in a lot of ways, but what can we do to shift that (mindset)? That's really all we've done." 

While Richardson accepts the heightened expectations of his team, he doesn't believe they come with any added pressure.

The Saints have simply taken the lessons of last season on board and spent the summer trying to address the gap between their best and worst football. 

"You only have to look at our points for and against – our percentage – to see that we were still too far away from the better teams," he said. 

"As a collective leadership group at the Saints we've said our want is to play finals but our focus is on what it is (that's behind) that gap.

"Our focus has all been around what we need to do to play that consistent footy to give ourselves the opportunity to play finals."

Richardson confirmed veteran midfielder Leigh Montagna has lost his race to throw off a calf injury in time to play in round one against Melbourne.

"He's done everything he can to get there, but he's probably going to be a couple of sessions short," he said.

"But we're really optimistic that he'll potentially play VFL that round with a strong chance to play the week after."