Saints swing axe in AFL

Stung by two bad AFL fadeouts, St Kilda have made mass changes for Sunday’s match against Essendon at Etihad Stadium.

They regain Maverick Weller from a calf injury and have promoted first-year player Daniel McKenzie for his AFL debut.

But the Saints reacted to their losses to Collingwood and Essendon by also making three other unforced changes.

No.1 draft pick Paddy McCartin, Cameron Shenton, Tom Curren, Nathan Wright and Ahmed Saad were all dropped.

Jimmy Webster, Tom Hickey and Blake Acres are the other admissions.

The Bombers lost veteran Paul Chapman to a groin injury and promoted Kyle Langford for his AFL debut.

Despite the Saints dropping off significantly against Collingwood and Carlton in the last two games, their director of coaching Danny Sexton is encouraged by what their young, inexperienced side is showing.

“We’re definitely on the right track,” Sexton said.

“What will happen is the players who are being selected because they’ve earned their spot, they will got more game time and they’ll improve.

“We’re not comfortable to be falling away and losing halves by eight or nine goals … but we think we’re building.

“The players are showing significant signs of improvement.”

Sexton added McKenzie, taken with pick No.22 in last year’s draft, had earned his debut.

“He’s a hard at-it winger or halfback, he has really clean hands and athletic,” Sexton said.

“It’s a really good effort for him to force his way into the team by round five, as a first-year player.

“We’re really comfortable selecting him – he won’t come in and br a shy kind of kid.

“He’ll attack the footy and tackle well.”

St Kilda remain without experienced players such as Nick Riewoldt and Leigh Montagna because of injury.

Sexton said there would be no shortcuts as they develop such a young team.

“It all comes back to how well they’re prepared and how well they’re educated during the week,” .

“Once they’ve put some games together, they’re familiar with playing together and they’ve faced different circumstances, their reponses will become better.”

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