SUB-PAR kicking skills at St Kilda, both at goal and in play, have been heavily scrutinised but coaches around the competition have pinpointed another area the Saints have struggled in. 

St Kilda has been thumped in the ruck.

A look at the coaches' votes shows the Saints have conceded more votes to opposing ruckmen through nine rounds than any other side, with 28.

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Geelong (25) and Greater Western Sydney (22) round out the top-three, two clubs which have had noted troubles in the ruck.

Only votes by primary ruckmen were counted, rather than also considering back-up big men.

On three occasions, the opposing ruckman hasn't polled against the Saints. Two of those matches were against Geelong and GWS while the Magpies' Brodie Grundy did not manage any either last Saturday night.

Tom Hickey has been the club's primary choice since round four and has conceded 15 votes in that time, while scoring the club's only coaches votes by a ruckman this year when he had two in the draw to GWS, going up against Dawson Simpson.

Hickey has been hurt by the third-man up no longer being allowed at stoppages, which the Saints used to great effect in Hickey's career-best year of 2016.

Furthermore, he spent much of the pre-season recovering from a right shoulder reconstruction.

St Kilda experimented with its ruck situation in the first month of the season. Billy Longer lined up in the opening two games of the year after establishing himself in 2017 as the club's preferred option.

However, an interrupted pre-season seems to have affected his form and since being dropped, the 25-year-old has been underwhelming with VFL affiliate Sandringham.

Rookie Rowan Marshall was the primary ruckman in round three against Adelaide but his inexperience, having now lined up in six career matches, and a quiet run since returning from concussion, make it hard for the Saints to use him in that role.

A solution could lie with Lewis Pierce. The 23-year-old has played for Frankston this season instead of Sandringham in a deal created to allow him more opportunities to play in his preferred position, instead of in defence as he often had to do at the Zebras in 2017. 

In a Dolphins team that sits fourth-last, Pierce has averaged 42 hit-outs through seven games.

St Kilda face Richmond on Saturday afternoon at the MCG, with Tiger Toby Nankervis having been rated among the competition's elite ruckmen by coach Damien Hardwick.

AFLCA votes conceded to ruckmen

1 St Kilda 28 
2 Geelong 25 
3 GWS 22 
4 Essendon 18 
5 North Melbourne 16 
6 Adelaide 15 
7 Port Adeleaide 12 
8 Carlton 11 
9 Sydney  10 
10 Gold Coast  9 
11 Western Bulldogs          7 
12 Collingwood 5 
=13 Hawthorn 4 
=13 Richmond 4 
=15 Fremantle 0 
=15 Brisbane 0 
=15 Melbourne 0 
=15 West Coast 0