St Kilda coach Alan Richardson has called for rules around the AFL’s rookie list to be relaxed so clubs can call on players from it throughout the season.
Saints have elevated veteran small forward Adam Schneider from the list, with Richardson saying he’s an on-field coach for their young side.
But with clubs only able to nominate one player after the bye, it means he can no longer call on the likes of promising youngster Jack Sinclair or American convert Jason Holmes unless another player moves to the long-term injury list.
Richardson said he would have selected Sinclair to face the Western Bulldogs on Saturday night at Etihad Stadium.
He said Saints would push for the rules to be relaxed.
“My understanding of the rookie list was that it was brought in to make sure that teams become competitive when there was a lot of injuries,” Richardson said.
“You could bring in these guys but, financially, there was not the commitment for the club that a primary list player would take.
“That all makes sense but I don’t think there’s the need now …
“I don’t see there’s a negative in having these guys come in and play on your list and that’s what we would be pushing for.”
While the Saints opted for 222-game Schneider, who has played in five grand finals, Sinclair was a lucky loser, offered a two-year deal starting in 2016.
The 20-year-old, after missing out on being drafted in his first year available, has made a big impact this season, playing the first 10 games and kicking 11 goals to be ranked third at the club.
Sinclair admitted he was frustrated to remain on the rookie list but said he’d already achieved more than he expected in his debut season.
“I’ve just been rapt with the way I’ve played the first 10 rounds and I never thought I’d play so many games so early in my career,” he said.
Richardson said Sinclair had a big future at the club but he couldn’t go past the experience of Schneider.
“Schneids has the ability to make others better, given his experience and leadership,” Richardson said.
“He’s almost like an another assistant coach for us out there and it really came down to that.”
The Saints head into the Western Bulldogs match fresh from the bye and a thrilling last-ditch win over Melbourne.
In their last clash in round six, St Kilda fought back from 55 points down in the third quarter for a memorable victory.
Richardson was looking for a better start from his team.
“We were pretty ordinary early while the Bulldogs were outstanding with their pressure,” he said.
“That will be a focus for us.”