Season preview: Why new Saints coach has a big task on his hands

Club: St Kilda

Coach: Nick Dal Santo

Captain: Hannah Priest

2021 best and fairest: Georgia Patrikios

2021 in a nutshell: The Saints started strong in 2021, opening their season with an exhilarating win against the Western Bulldogs, but only managed another two wins all season. Georgia Patrikios was far and away the Saints’ most consistent performer, while Tyanna Smith enjoyed a stellar debut season and Rhiannon Watt had another strong year in the ruck. Several heavy defeats saw the Saints finish 11th on the ladder, but a 56-point thrashing of West Coast in the final round ended the season on a high note.

AFLW Match Highlights: West Coast v St Kilda

03:21 Mar 28. 2021. 8:10 PM

The Eagles and Saints clash in round nine of the NAB AFL Women's competition

Full squad: Alice Burke, Lucy Burke, Leah Cutting, Rosie Dillon, Nat Exon, Ella Friend, Caitlin Greiser, Darcy Guttridge, Bianca Jakobsson, Tilly Lucas-Rodd, Jess Matin, Kate McCarthy, Molly McDonald, Tahlia Meyer, Rebecca Ott, Georgia Patrikios, Cat Phillips, Hannah Priest, Ash Richards, Renee Saulitis, Isabella Shannon, Kate Shierlaw, Jayde Van Dyk, Olivia Vesely, Jacqui Vogt, Rhiannon Watt, Tarni White, Alana Woodward, Nicola Xenos

Recruits: Lucy Burke (Southern Saints VFLW, replacement player), Paige Price (rookie), Alana Woodward (delisted free agent, Richmond)

Draftees: Leah Cutting (undrafted free agent), Ella Friend, Ash Richards

Inactive: Paige Price (hip), Tyanna Smith (ACL, replacement TBC)

Out: Poppy Kelly (Richmond), Claudia Whitfort (Gold Coast), Selena Karlson (retired), Alison Brown, Clara Fitzpatrick, Tamara Luke, Nadia von Bertouch (delisted)

2022 opponents: Richmond (H), Collingwood (A), Melbourne (A), West Coast (H), Greater Western Sydney (A), Brisbane (H), Carlton (A), Gold Coast (A), Geelong (H), Adelaide (H)

REVEALED: The 2022 NAB AFLW fixture is here

05:11 Dec 2. 2021. 12:45 PM

Every team, all the match-ups, where you need to be and when

Circle it: The Saints have the rare honour of opening the NAB AFLW season when they take on Richmond at SkyBus Stadium in Frankston under Friday night lights. While the Saints had a rocky season last year, Richmond looked to be on the up, setting the scene for a fascinating clash between two expansion teams.

2022 FIXTURE Check out who your club will face

Player to watch: After playing in defence last season, tough 20-year-old Tarni White has been preparing for a return to the midfield, and in the absence of Smith – and likely Patrikios – she could become a vital cog in the Saints’ engine room.

Tarni White during a training session with St Kilda on October 14, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

Best NAB AFLW Rising Star chance: Ella Friend 

2022 prediction: After a frustrating 2021, the 2022 season looms as a challenging one for St Kilda, with the side losing one – maybe two – of their best players before the season has even started. New coach Nick Dal Santo has a big task on his hands after taking over the reins from trailblazing coach Peta Searle, but a fresh approach might be just what is needed for the young Saints. The Saints will be pushing for their maiden finals berth but will need their experienced players to stand tall and youngsters to develop quickly if they’re to finish in the top six.