Saints axe Dal Santo for Freo clash - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Saints axe Dal Santo for Freo clash

By Roger Vaughan 19/06/2008 10:49:09 PM Comments (0)

St Kilda coach Ross Lyon denies the shock axing of Nick Dal Santo was designed to send a message to the rest of the team.

Dal Santo and St Kilda's leading goalkicker this season, small forward Stephen Milne, were big-name omissions for the must-win match Friday night against Fremantle at Telstra Dome.

It will be the first time in 114 games that Dal Santo has not made the senior side.

Along with captain Nick Riewoldt and Lenny Hayes, he is among the Saints' top three players.

"It's the system, it's not personal, it's not about personalities, the colour of your hair, the colour of your eyes, how tall or short you are, it's about the standards, the benchmarks," Lyon told Channel Nine's The Footy Show.

"At the end of the day, we just facilitate the information put in front of us and right or wrongly, that's the decision the match committee have made.

"It's not about swinging the axe and sending messages, it's not about that, it's about who's best living the behaviours we want and the leaders want at the club."

While Dal Santo was named as an emergency, Lyon said the midfielder and Milne would play on Sunday for VFL affiliates, the Casey Scorpions.

The Saints are in big trouble with five wins and seven losses, while the Dockers had a big win last weekend over North Melbourne.

"I haven't entered into it lightly, but between the leadership group and playing group, we've got a set of behaviours and standards that everyone has to meet on-field," Lyon said.

"We've drawn a line in the sand, we're not getting the results we want and previous performance isn't really a precursor to what's going to happen.

"We've made a decision and we'll stick by it ... we're looking forward to getting them back."

Ruckman Michael Gardiner and forward Adam Schneider are also out with hamstring problems, while three of the four inclusions are first-gamers.

Again reflecting Lyon's determination to shake up the team, the Saints promoted rookie-listed player Robert Eddy, Jarryd Allen and ruckman Ben McEvoy for their AFL debuts.

The other inclusion was second-year player David Armitage.

Fremantle, by contrast, named an unchanged team.

Milne leads the Saints goalkicking with 27, but he only managed one goal apiece in his last two matches.

Like Dal Santo, Milne has not missed a senior game so far this season.

McEvoy's selection will also make Robert Harvey only the ninth AFL player to have a teammate who was not born when he made his senior debut.

Harvey first played senior football in 1988 and McEvoy was born the following year.

The 36-year-old, the league's oldest current player, was named in Friday night's team despite calf soreness in the loss to Sydney.

After Friday night, St Kilda play fellow mid-range teams North and Carlton ahead of top side Hawthorn.

Earlier on Thursday, former St Kilda captain and current board member Nathan Burke declared the side could definitely return to the top eight.

"I don't see anyone on our horizon that, if we ... play our best football, we can't beat," he said.

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