ST KILDA will draw on the experience of its successful band of recruits for the club's first final in nine years against the Western Bulldogs at the Gabba on Saturday.
Much has been made of the seamless way the Saints have incorporated Dan Butler, Zak Jones, Paddy Ryder, Bradley Hill and Dougal Howard into the side this season as they surged up the ladder.
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However, throw in Dan Hannebery from the year before and even Jake Carlisle before that, and part of St Kilda's strategy was to recruit players with finals experience.
It's why coach Brett Ratten feels Saturday's elimination final won't be completely foreign to his side, even though many will experience the finals cauldron for the first time.
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The topic was broached after the Saints sealed their finals spot with a commanding round 18 victory over Greater Western Sydney a fortnight ago.
"We sort of spoke about, 'This is part of the journey for us', playing finals and trying to get our football club to a point where this is a regular occurrence," Ratten said.
"I dare say this experience for (Nick) Coffield, (Hunter) Clark, (Ben) Paton and (Ben) Long; these games are going to be worth 20 for them. The experience and the pressure – they'll learn so much out of this.
"We've probably got one of the youngest backlines in the competition, week in week out, and we've stuck with that and they've really developed well. The experience they'll get from this will just be enormous."
Jones (hamstring) will return for Josh Battle (foot) in St Kilda's sole change, while Ratten said Hannebery (hamstring) had benefited greatly from the week off and spent it training harder than most.
Carlisle will play against the Bulldogs, but there is some doubt beyond that – assuming the Saints win – with his partner due to give birth imminently.