Selections reflect Saints 'team defence' - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Selections reflect Saints 'team defence'

By Roger Vaughan 15/09/2009 04:10:04 PM Comments (0)

The lack of St Kilda defenders in the AFL All-Australian team was odd, but also a reflection of their awesome game style this season.

The Saints only had two players in the initial All-Australian squad of 12 backmen, despite being easily the best defensive team during the season.

Sam Gilbert did not make the final 22 that was named on Monday night, while Brendon Goddard won his first All-Australian selection on the bench.

But midfield team-mates Lenny Hayes, Nick Dal Santo and Leigh Montagna all were picked and captain Nick Riewoldt was named All-Australian skipper at centre half-forward.

Goddard, who also has played through the midfield this season, said the selections reflected the Saints' strict "team defence" mentality.

They have become masters at putting the opposition under pressure, anywhere on the ground.

"It's not only that the defence has been good, but around the whole ground our pressure, especially through the midfield, has made the defenders' job a lot easier," Goddard said.

"I've spent a little bit of time down there (in defence), but obviously I've spent time in the midfield and up forward.

"It's a credit to the boys, as a team effort, to where we are with our defence this year."

Goddard's All-Australian debut is a long way from the start of his career, when he suffered from expectations as the 2002 No.1 draft pick.

Then, he missed most of the 2007 season after needing a knee reconstruction.

"Probably a couple of years ago, you're not quite sure about your future, it's a little bit cloudy," he said of the knee injury.

"But it's a reward for a lot of hard work.

"It's a little bit flattering, to be honest - I know this has been said before, but it's an outcome of a successful team.

"That's the way we look at it and we've got bigger fish to fry on Friday night."

The Saints will play the Western Bulldogs in Friday night's preliminary final at the MCG.

The Bulldogs showed a lot of improvement in the weekend's semi-final win over Brisbane and Dal Santo took careful note.

"Obviously there was a little bit of criticism and questions asked prior to last week, but the way they bounced back and particularly on the big stage, they stood up when it was needed," Dal Santo said.

"Their clearance work was fantastic and their spread with the ball and also defensively really put them in a good position."

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