St Kilda are doing all they can to win the ruck battle against Collingwood on Saturday, believing stopping Brodie Grundy is the key to victory in their round three AFL clash at the MCG.
Coach Brett Ratten says the inclusion of former Magpie Jonathon Marsh is part of how the Saints plan to nullify Grundy, widely rated as the game’s No.1 big man.
Ruckman Paddy Ryder and teammate Rowan Marshall impressed against youngster Tim English in St Kilda’s 39-point win over Western Bulldogs last round but Grundy is a much tougher proposition.
“Grundy is a star and when you think about the victories that Collingwood have had it’s all really started from Brodie,” Ratten said on Friday.
“He gives (Scott) Pendelbury, (Steele) Sidebottom, Taylor Adams first use of the footy so that battle will be crucial in the game and the result may hinge on it.
“Hopefully, the two boys can nullify his influence on the game.”
Ratten said Marsh’s versatility was key to his selection as the replacement for injured skipper Jarryn Geary.
“It’s his ability to play as a forward and play multiple roles there for us and give (Max) Kingy and Timmy (Membrey) a bit of support and it allows our rucks to do what they do best and keep their energy up around the ball.”
St Kilda earnt plenty of praise for their performance against the Bulldogs, with recruits Dougal Howard, Zak Jones, Dan Butler, Brad Hill and Ryder shining.
But Ratten felt the unbeaten Magpies will give his side a real test of their premiership credentials.
“Collingwood have been a benchmark team for the last few years and for us to get a win, it was something that we got a shot of confidence from but the real test will come now.
“That will be a huge challenge.”
Ratten says he’s keeping a close eye on forecasted rain after naming a tall line-up but is confident his players will be up to the conditions.
“We have factored it in – we thought if it was torrential we’d maybe make a change but it looks like it’s going to be fine.”
St Kilda players outside the match-day squad will get a chance to push for a call-up in a scratch match against the Magpies earlier on Saturday.
Ratten said that defender Dylan Roberton, who played in round one but has been overlooked since, would take part as he worked his way back into form after almost two years out because of heart problems.
“He had a couple of years where he couldn’t play and the game has changed slightly; maybe he has changed slightly with his body and things he can do.
“Just to refocus for him will be really critical and I think he can do that through the next few weeks.”