St Kilda footy boss Simon Lethlean could have better framed his defence of Dan Hannebery. Picture: Michael Klein
St Kilda footy boss Simon Lethlean could have better framed his defence of Dan Hannebery. Picture: Michael Klein

Robbo: What’s going on at the Saints?

IT'S been a dramatic 48 hours for St Kilda.

How dramatic depends on where you sit.

The news that Jake Carlisle faces back surgery and could be out for five months is a huge blow.

The news that Jack Steven has stepped away from football for a short period due to a mental health problem is a sad situation for Steven and an unfortunate happening for the Saints.

That high-priced recruit Daniel Hannebery has a hamstring injury adds to the turmoil.

The Saints already have the football world peering at them, perhaps even doubting them, ahead of their round one clash against Gold Coast, and now three of their better players have various levels of scrutiny upon them.

It doesn't need to be said the round one game is critical.

A loss and the vultures will be flexing their wings for take-off.

The Saints have the Suns, Essendon (home), Fremantle (away), Hawthorn (home), Melbourne (MCG), Richmond (Marvel), Port Adelaide (away), GWS (away), West Coast (home), and Collingwood (MCG) in the fist nine weeks of the season.

It's a challenging schedule and will become even more so if they fall to the Suns on the first Sunday of the season.

They need most things to go right ahead of round one, the Saints, and the Carlisle, Steven and Hannebery situations are hardly ideal.

Nor is the noise surrounding the Saints in the past couple of days.

If there was a ladder of rumours, the Saints would be on top with the double chance.

It's a nasty world social media and the Saints have copped it.

But don't panic, Saints fans, for the club has assured us they are all untrue.

That they have to deal with them, which includes asking their players, has frustrated them.

So it was bizarre to hear Saints football boss Simon Lethlean address some rumours on Wednesday on SEN Radio.

Jack Steven is taking time away from football to deal with his health. Picture: Michael Klein
Jack Steven is taking time away from football to deal with his health. Picture: Michael Klein

Indeed, if you were driving in your car and listening, you would have asked yourself: what's going on at the Saints?

It was a messy morning.

Lethlean was going on the radio, then he wasn't. Then he was criticised by Garry Lyon and Tim Watson for not doing the interview, then suddenly Lethlean was on the radio and had smacked down an AFL employee over the Hannebery rumours he was peddling, which Lyon and Watson had asked him about.

It was hunky dory in the end, but why Lethlean entertained a discussion about Hannebery rumours was mind boggling.

"He has always had a reputation about social life that he has to deal with,'' Lethlean said, "and the only way he can do that is by behaving well, pulling his head in when he needs to, and training hard and actually performing like the three-time All-Australian player that he is when he gets the chance to.''

Jake Carlisle may require back surgery. Picture: Michael Klein
Jake Carlisle may require back surgery. Picture: Michael Klein

For what it's worth, the Saints are thrilled with Hannebery and perhaps Lethlean might like his time again.

The scuttlebutt, on top of the injuries, heaped on to fears for Richardson's future, and all ahead of the round one  game against the Suns, would possibly make some think the Saints were approaching implosion.

It's far from the truth.

Skipper Jarryn Geary sent a message on Wednesday: "We're getting on with business."

His point being, there will be no distractions to what the club wants to achieve this year.

The players knew Carlisle had not trained for months so his news was not a shock.

Some of them had detected Steven's withdrawal and attitude change, so when Steven addressed the playing group on Monday and told them his story, there was a sense of understanding, if not relief that their great mate had told them the truth.

And then it was back to business.

So, talk of drama at the Saints is a little overplayed.

What they now need is clear air - and no injuries - heading into round one, a game with more than four points at stake.

News Corp Australia


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