A VERBAL clash between St Kilda pair Zak Jones and Bradley Hill emphasised the increased level of intensity at Saints training on Thursday.
The 2020 finalists are languishing at 2-4 to start the season, with coach Brett Ratten revealing he urged his players to express themselves more in the main session ahead of Saturday's date with Hawthorn.
The out-of-form Hill, who has been cleared to play after Achilles awareness, was seen trading words with Jones during a break in play in a physical match simulation.
"I think it might've been Jonesy barking at Hilly first and then Hilly started… I think those conversations are important," Ratten said.
"We've got expectations on how we want to play and if we sit there and accept it, I think it won't get the result.
"We can wait for quarter-time or three-quarter-time or half-time or for the runner to come out, but we've got some smart footballers out there and we've given them the license to really control what they can do in-game, not just wait for the breaks or the runner to come out.
"That was just one of the conversations they had, they have to work it out.
While St Kilda players have been criticised externally for often overlooking Hill during attacking chains, Ratten said it worked both ways.
"I think at times he's been in good spots and we haven't given him the ball and then other times he's had the ball and other players have been in good spots. There's a balancing act," Ratten said.
"With our group a little bit at the moment, everyone's trying to fix it themselves and we need them to think of others and still be in that team mode. Their agenda is the right one, they want to be the one to kickstart us, but it's not going to help us. We need to do it collectively and that's across the board."
Paddy Ryder is a certain starter to return and partner Rowan Marshall in the ruck, with Marshall telling AFL.com.au on Wednesday he couldn't wait to be back alongside his "big brother".
Ratten also confirmed Jimmy Webster would return after a groin complaint, while Jack Billings will take his place despite enjoying a lighter session as he manages a foot injury.
Midfielder Ryan Byrnes is also in the selection mix after two promising games back at VFL level after a pre-season hamstring injury that required surgery.
Jake Carlisle, who played in the 'B' side during the 18-versus-18 match simulation, left the track early with a back spasm after a history of back-related injuries.
On a brighter note, co-captain Jarryn Geary completed his first running session after ankle surgery earlier this month, while James Frawley will line-up in the VFL after a nasty pre-season hamstring tear.