ST KILDA will nervously await scans to star big man Rowan Marshall's foot injury as the club backed in young gun Max King to turn around his goalkicking troubles.
King booted 1.5 in the Saints' 21-point defeat to Geelong on Friday night, where the Saints scored 5.17 in a wasteful display to the Cats' 10.8. The defeat was further soured by another foot injury to Marshall, with the club unsure if it is a reoccurrence of his plantar fascia problem or stress reaction issue.
The 20-year-old King was dominant in the air, taking 10 marks as a forward option for his side, but was unable to convert his opportunities. He has booted 13.18 for the season from eight games.
SAINTS v CATS Full match coverage and stats
Coach Brett Ratten, who raised his concerns with the rule interpretations post-match, said King will continue to hone his craft at training to improve his conversion.
"Tonight we got some really good looks [at goal] and we couldn't do it. Max is a terrific young player. He's a second-year player [given injury in his first season] and the real pleasing aspect is he played against some really good defenders and he put himself right in the picture and he got to great spots," Ratten said post-game.
"He's going to keep learning. For him to have six shots at goal, he gave a couple off, he's going to put it together – whether it's next week or in a month I'm not sure – but he's showing everybody what he can do and he's not far off it."
The Saints' No.4 pick from the 2018 NAB AFL Draft will continue to work with assistant Jarryd Roughead on his goalkicking routine, with Ratten saying he would not be swamped with opinions.
"You have a chat about it. Footy clubs can be interesting, we've got a lot of people there and everybody can jump on one person and you get too much information," the coach said.
"We'll just keep going through the process that we are … he doesn't need too many voices."
Marshall's plantar fascia has remained an issue in recent weeks and the Saints are hopeful it was the cause of his pain and swelling on Friday night which forced his substitution.
"We're not sure. We thought it was [that], but there's a bit of swelling there as well so we'll just have to have a look at that. He'll go and get some scans but we think it's still the plantar fascia, but it might be something else," Ratten said.
Ratten also put the spotlight on Geelong's handballing out of tackles, and suggested his side was unlucky to not have been awarded more free kicks for holding the ball.
"To think we had 85 tackles … and you get three free kicks (for holding the ball). I don't know if it's worth tackling, just set up behind the ball and flood back," he said.
"I don't think we got our reward for our effort around the tackling component of the game. That was slightly disappointing but the players' effort and what they did was very good. We just didn't quite do what we wanted to do and that was put it through the sticks."
Geelong counterpart Chris Scott conceded that he felt his side was fortunate to leave with a win after St Kilda's inability to finish off its work.
"When you come away from a game [with a win] where you haven't played as a collective as well as we would have liked, that's always pleasing," he said.
"I think we were a bit lucky to be honest. That was our observation, especially early in the game. They were all over us early, couldn't kick straight and could have really put us under some pressure. The second half was a bit more in our favour."