St Kilda’s draftees are hoping to quickly turn the club’s fortunes around. Picture: Getty Images
St Kilda’s draftees are hoping to quickly turn the club’s fortunes around. Picture: Getty Images

Saints put rebuild faith in surprise quartet

St Kilda has pinned its faith on four mature-aged recruits who have downed their tools and embarked on new careers, confident they can play a role in reviving the club's fortunes next year.

While most of the Saints' draft attention has centred on teenagers Max King (pick four) and his good mate Jack Bytel (pick 41), the club's list strategy was also to target ready-made players out of the state leagues capable of making an immediate impact.

Three were taken in the national draft - South Fremantle's Matthew Parker (pick 47), Essendon VFL's Nick Hind (54) and North Adelaide's Robbie Young (67) - while the Saints also added another North Adelaide player Callum Wilkie with pick three in the rookie draft.

Overlooked in the past, this quartet of players has settled well into Moorabbin, desperate to make the most of the opportunities presented to them.

Parker, who was working digging holes while playing in the WAFL, was at home under the shower when his life changed last Friday week.

A close friend of Geelong's Tim Kelly, the 22-year-old said the Cats' star had played a role in making him believe he was good enough to chase his dreams.

Mature-age recruit Robbie Young with Jack Bytel and Max King. Picture: Getty Images
Mature-age recruit Robbie Young with Jack Bytel and Max King. Picture: Getty Images

"He rings me up and tells me to keep striving for greatness," Parker said. "He has paved the way for me.

"I was sitting at home one day (a few years ago) and thought to myself, 'Where am I going to be in 10 years'? I wanted to make a name for myself and wanted other people to look up to me."

His partner and baby son proved part of the inspiration to throw everything into his football, and the reward has come with his drafting, though he wants more: "Now I'm here, I know I have to work extra hard."

Hind, a plumber, had his last day on site the day before he was taken by the Saints. He has had to hand back his company car, but was happy to do so.

"It's crazy that something like this can happen so quickly," Hind, 24, said. "Obviously, learning the game plan can be different at clubs, but I give myself a chance in the preseason.

"I will keep working on my fitness and my strength. I definitely won't take it for granted … I think I can make an impact early season."

Young, 23, was at a cricket carnival in his role as an indigenous worker at Playford International College in Adelaide when he learnt his childhood dream of being drafted had been realised. His students celebrated with him.

 

"I always kept my eyes on the prize," Young said. "It shows that no matter how old you are, you can always achieve your dreams.

"I feel like anything's possible (with hard work) … my goal now is aiming for Round 1. It is all down to me now."

Defender Wilkie, 22, was working on tax returns in his role as an accountant when his name was called out in the rookie draft last Friday week. The next day he was cleaning out his desk and preparing for a move to Melbourne.

"Most of us here have played senior footy, and some of us for a long time," he said. "Obviously, there is a big step between that and the AFL, but we have that senior experience, and hopefully it might not take us as long (to adapt)."

Nick Hind in action for Essendon VFL. Picture: Getty Images
Nick Hind in action for Essendon VFL. Picture: Getty Images

MATURE-AGED SAINTS

Matthew Parker (South Fremantle)

Pick 47

22-year-old, forward/midfielder

Ht: 187cm W: 79kg

Former job: "Digging ditches" as an underground gas pipe worker

Nick Hind (Essendon VFL)

Pick 54

24-year-old, wingman/midfield

H: 180cm W: 75kg

Former job: Plumber

Robbie Young (North Adelaide)

Pick 67

23-year-old, forward/midfielder

H: 179cm W: 75kg

Former job: Indigenous worker at Playford International College

Callum Wilkie (North Adelaide)

Rookie draft pick 3

22-year-old, defender

H: 191cm W: 87kg

Former job: Accountant

News Corp Australia


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