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Team meetings in the middle of the 'G? Why not, say Saints

St Kilda is sitting pretty in second spot on the ladder with four wins from the opening five rounds - AFL,St Kilda Saints,Alan Richardson
St Kilda is sitting pretty in second spot on the ladder with four wins from the opening five rounds

THE PLAYERS aren't the only ones in form at St Kilda.

After a summer of discontent, where an abundance of pressure was placed firmly on the shoulders of Alan Richardson, the Saints' coaching staff has also bounced back.

And, according to veteran Nathan Brown, they are at the top of their game right now.

An hour before Saturday's victory over Melbourne, St Kilda's players gathered in the centre circle of the MCG for their regular pre-match team meeting.

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However, it was hardly a one-off. The Saints have spent the entire start to the season finding new ways to freshen up old routines.

First, Richardson led the meeting. Then, new assistant coach Brett Ratten took control. A host of other coaches and players soon had their say, in full view of the supporters filing into the ground.

For Brown, it was just another way the coaches are sparking the club's rise up the ladder.

"A big part of our mentality is just to loosen up and have fun," Brown told AFL.com.au.

 

"We don't have to have our team meetings inside for every single game. We can change things up. It's just something different that Richo threw up.

"We go through the way we want to play and it lets us visualise it out on the ground … to actually physically stand out on the ground and see it as they explain it.

"That's where the coaching group is at the moment. They're pulling up fantastic stuff to keep it fresh, keep us engaged and keep us learning."

So, what was the focus of this week's meeting? According to Brown, it was a rather unique take on the evenness of the club's individual performers so far this year.

"Richo mentioned before the game that the club best and fairest voting would be wide open at the moment," Brown said.

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"There's so many guys playing their role and doing their jobs. You need that as a team."

That's evidenced in this year's AFL Coaches' Association Player of the Year voting.

Despite being one of just two clubs to start the year with a 4-1 record, the Saints have just one player in the top 10 of the voting (Seb Ross) and two in the top 20 (Jack Billings).

Meanwhile, seven Saints received votes from Saturday's win over the Demons.

But while new players have come into the side and reinvigorated the way the team is playing, the coaching group's ability to band everyone together has also been lauded.

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"A lot (of the improvement) has come from personnel changes at the club," Brown said.

"We've got a couple of new, highly experienced coaches. They've tinkered with our game plan. Defensively, we're playing as a team and we're all connected.

"We've lost a lot of quality players – really high-quality players – so we've got our young guys filling spots because our blueprint is so easy to follow."