Koschitzke crucial to Saints: Lyon - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Koschitzke crucial to Saints: Lyon

By Adam Cooper 07/04/2009 08:22:21 PM Comments (0)

St Kilda coach Ross Lyon has challenged Justin Koschitzke to build on his great start to the AFL season to get more defining performances out of the much-maligned forward.

Koschitzke's 11 marks and two goals made him the most effective forward in the round-one victory over Sydney and he followed that with four goals in last Friday night's defeat of Adelaide at AAMI Stadium.

They were encouraging returns for a player who, despite possessing the attributes of a game-breaker, has underperformed since he was selected at No.2 in the 2000 draft.

Koschitzke had only polled Brownlow Medal votes in seven of his 119 games before this season, and had never finished higher than ninth in his club best and fairest award.

Lyon on Tuesday was reluctant to single out players in his side's strong start to the campaign, but admitted he had liked what he had seen from his No.23.

"We all love key forwards and we all like to see them kicking goals and he took a couple of spectacular marks," he said.

"He was clearly the dominant forward on the ground last week and he was real workmanlike against Sydney.

"All summer, we've been preaching the virtues that he hasn't missed and he's got a lot of continuity in his footy and he's 26 and coming into his peak and he's playing a really strong role for the team."

Koschitzke has clearly benefited from being injury-free after his share of setbacks over the years, and Lyon believed he had also been able to settle in attack thanks to having Steven King and Michael Gardiner in the ruck.

The Saints are hopeful Koschitzke can produce a consistent run of strong performances.

"The challenge of league football, if you stay in it a long time, the really good players every three out of four weeks are getting the job done," Lyon said.

"So there's an expectation that he continues to deliver."

Koschitzke's promising start has granted the Saints the luxury of not relying on a massive input from captain Nick Riewoldt, who has begun slowly by his standards after knee surgery in the pre-season.

"He's come in a little bit underdone, but every training session and every quarter you've seen improvement," Lyon said.

On top of Koschitzke's form, St Kilda's defensive pressure across the ground was so good in round two Adelaide coach Neil Craig hailed it the best the Crows had encountered outside a final.

Lyon was having none of that, and said his side was focused on playing West Coast at Etihad Stadium on Saturday.

"You sit down together and you have a soda water and the next day you fly out to (watch) the Eagles, so it's important for us that we've moved on," he said.

Defender Matt Maguire has overcome foot problems and is a chance to return to the side for his first game since round seven last year, and his 100th overall.

Flanker Xavier Clarke has also been in good form in the VFL, but could find it difficult breaking into a winning line-up.

"It's a bit like the Australian Test team - once you're in and winning, it's hard to break in," Lyon said.

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