The club rooms at the Peanut Farm rather resembled a transit lounge over the 2016/17 off season, with many new faces replacing various members of the playing staff seeking pastures new.
And the most pertinent of all those incoming is the man tasked with shaping the new parts into a cohesive engine, former premiership coach Richard Houston.
“King Richard” has history with this club, having been at the helm during the glory days of the mid to late 2000s. He presides over a playing group with high expectations and no small degree of talent, with the club having scouted far and wide to get what they feel that they needed.
The likes of the brothers Runnalls, Beau and Matt, come with big reputations and hunger for success. So too Jayden Styles and Thomas Motlop, amongst others.
The club felt that it needed to recruit well in the big man department. The feeling around the Peanut Farm is that they have addressed this need well, particularly through the acquisition of Albion ruckman Troy Kelm, and the buy-in from the playing group has been strong.
“It’s been quite impressive – 30’s and 40’s (on the track). Things are definitely on the up I’d say”, was the assessment given by Beau Runnalls.
Coach Houston himself is impressed with what he’s seen at his old stomping ground thus far.
“It’s very upbeat at the moment. The players can’t wait to get into that first game against the rivals Port Colts,” he said.
“Everyone’s looking forward to the year. I always have high expectations – I won’t necessarily say them here – but I definitely want an improvement on last year”.
Also looking for an improvement on 2016 is St Kilda City’s netball department, having gone through a trying winter, especially at the top level. Club stalwart Billie Nukunuku sounded confident. “We have lots of new recruits this year. We’re looking really strong and positive this year,” she said.
Chloe Ballard backed up Billie’s assessment, stating that whilst St Kilda City would field the same number of teams, there are a fair few new faces this year, particularly in Division 1.
St Kilda City are widely tipped to make a hefty charge up the Division 1 Senior ladder this year, featuring in many pundits’ top five this season. Whether the weight of expectation sits well upon the head that wears the crown, and his able charges, remains to be seen.
What does seem evident, however, is that few opposition sides will make the trip to Blessington Street expecting an easy afternoon. The Saints should be amongst the big improvers in 2017.