Callum Wilkie, Ross Lyon, Jack Steele and Jack Sinclair during St Kilda's official team photo day at RSEA Park on February 6, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

Ins and outs


Riley Bonner (Pre-Season Draft), Lance Collard (No.28 draft pick), Paddy Dow (trade, Carlton), Hugo Garcia (No.50 draft pick), Angus Hastie (No.33 draft pick), Liam Henry (trade, Fremantle), Liam O'Connell (Category B rookie), Arie Schoenmaker (No.62 draft pick), Darcy Wilson (No.18 draft pick)


Oscar Adams (delisted), Jack Billings (trade, Melbourne), Jack Bytel (delisted), Nick Coffield (trade, Western Bulldogs), Leo Connolly (delisted), Jade Gresham (free agent, Essendon), Tom Highmore (delisted), Dan McKenzie (delisted), Jack Peris (delisted)

Medical room

Star defender Jack Sinclair will miss practice matches as he battles a calf niggle and the luckless Hunter Clark suffered a facial fracture in a nasty knock at training, but there are hopes both will be fit for round one. Ben Paton (pectoral rupture) will be sidelined for at least three months, while Dan Butler is recovering from ankle surgery and could miss early rounds. Recruit Paddy Dow (knee) is racing the clock. Jack Hayes (knee) and James Van Es (ankle) remain in the rehab group. 

Hunter Clark is hurt at St Kilda training. Picture: St Kilda FC

Three burning questions

Can core young group drive Saints forward?
The Saints have reliable hard workers like Brad Crouch and Seb RossCallum Wilkie is a rock in defence and Jack Sinclair's flowing mullet off half-back is one of the best sights in football. But the organic growth of 23-and-under group Mitch Owens, Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera, Mattaes Phillipou, Marcus Windhager, Max King and now Liam Henry will be the crucial factor in whether the Saints improve on last year's elimination final exit.

Does Jack Steele recapture destructive best?
Captain Steele endured an injury-interrupted 2023 and it appeared to impact his form, averaging 24 disposals (10.7 contested) and 4.6 clearances. Across 2021-22, he averaged 28 disposals (12.5 contested) and 5.7 clearances. He's also hit the scoreboard less in recent seasons, booting nine goals from 2022-23 compared to 24 from 2020-21, with shortened games in 2020. Word out of RSEA Park is that he is fresh and firing and has been very vocal during sessions. A return to 2020-22 form would go a long way to keeping the Saints in the eight. 

Jack Steele poses for a photo during St Kilda's team photo day on February 6, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

Will there be more off-field rumblings?
St Kilda is on the hunt for a new chief executive after the shock call to part ways with Simon Lethlean just seven weeks out from its opening match. It's not the first off-field shake-up since Ross Lyon came back to power and it remains to be seen if there is more to come. You'd be hard pressed to find a Saints fan unhappy with who Lyon has brought into coaching ranks, however, with club legends Brendon Goddard, Rob Harvey and Lenny Hayes all in the entourage.

Track watch

High-profile recruit Liam Henry has impressed in match simulation – more on him soon – and first-round draft pick Darcy Wilson is turning heads with his running power. Mattaes Phillipou is coming off an eye-catching debut season and is said to have improved his endurance. Max King looks back to full fitness after missing games due to shoulder injuries last year.

Fantasy lock

The Fantasy game of Jack Sinclair (DEF, $922,000) has grown. He had a huge breakout in 2022 in his eighth season in the system to average 102.9. He backed it up last year with 102.2. While he will sit out the club's two practice matches, Sinclair played every game of the last two seasons, and relishing his role off half-back, an increase in marks and disposals has been what has made him the Fantasy gun that he is.

Instant hit

The Dockers were not happy about winger Liam Henry requesting a trade and the Saints are seeing why. Fremantle was just starting see the fruits of its Henry investment, having played 16 games last year and earning three Brownlow votes in a big game against Essendon. Now the Saints are set to cash in. Surprisingly, Henry has been deployed at centre bounces in match simulation. He's showcased his skill and class on the wing but watch for him to spend some time onball and drifting forward in 2024.  

It's a big year for…

Max King managed just 11 games last year as injury stalled his expected step to superstar status. All signs point to a huge 2024, provided he can keep on the park. In 2022 he booted 52 goals but held himself back with inaccuracy (he also kicked 41 behinds). The numbers say he largely improved issues in front of goal last season, kicking 28.12. Time for 60-plus in 2024. 

Max King celebrates a goal during the elimination final between St Kilda and GWS at the MCG on September 9, 2023. Picture: Getty Images/AFL Photos

Pass mark

Securing a home elimination final was a success last year and you could argue the Saints were unlucky to cop a suddenly rampaging Greater Western Sydney, which ultimately missed a Grand Final berth by a kick. If star pair Jack Steele and Max King avoid injury and most of the 23-and-under group improve further, making finals again in 2024 will be the expectation. 

Best 23 for 2024

B: Josh Battle, Callum Wilkie, Jimmy Webster
HB: Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera, Zaine Cordy, Jack Sinclair
C: Bradley Hill, Jack Steele, Liam Henry
HF: Jack Higgins, Tim Membrey, Matteas Phillipou
F: Dan Butler, Max King, Mitch Owens 
Foll: Rowan Marshall, Brad Crouch, Seb Ross
I/C: Hunter Clark, Marcus Windhager, Mason Wood, Liam Stocker, Paddy Dow (sub)
Emerg: Cooper Sharman, Anthony Caminiti, Ryan Byrnes