St Kilda’s late finals push might have come to nothing but don’t try telling the Saints that Sunday’s clash with Brisbane is a dead rubber.
An upset loss to the Lions would leave Alan Richardson’s side with an 11-11 win-loss record and feeling their encouraging 2016 campaign deserved better.
“We’ve spoken about finishing strongly with a positive win-loss ratio,” Saints defender Shane Savage told AAP.
“It was great that we were able to at least put ourselves in that finals conversation for a while there.
“We wanted to take a few scalps in the second half of the year, and we did that, and we feel like this game will be important to help us take some momentum into next year.
“It’s been a really positive season … we’ve been able to take some really big strides forward this year and we want to finish that off well.”
St Kilda have easily surpassed their previous best season under Richardson – last year’s six-win campaign – and will finish ninth regardless of the result against the Lions.
The Etihad Stadium encounter will also be significant for the two inclusions in the team who defeated Richmond. Defender Brandon White will make his AFL debut and veteran back man Sam Fisher returns from a hamstring strain for what could be his 228th and final game.
The 34-year-old was yet to receive a contract offer from the Saints for next season, but Richardson said recently no decision had been made on his playing future.
“Fish has been a pivotal player for the team for a number of years,” Savage said.
“His wealth of experience has been really beneficial for our younger guys. He’s really taken our young defenders under his wing and helped them out a lot.
“He’s had a really positive impact for a long time now.”
Brisbane will hope to send off a veteran defender of their own in full-back Daniel Merrett, who will play his 200th and final game after announcing his retirement this week.