2023 AFL Draft Review: St Kilda
ST KILDA boosted its flexibility at the 2023 AFL Draft, recruiting a handful of draft age players to fill positions in every third of the ground. Having made finals this year, the Saints will hope to back it up as the squad continues to change face under coach Ross Lyon and list manager Stephen Silvagni.
>> UPDATED: Every Pick in the 2023 AFL Draft
3. Riley Bonner
>> ANALYSIS: Big winners, bolters & sliders
Laying claim to two first round picks, St Kilda was well poised to secure a top 15 slider and did so when Darcy Wilson remained available at pick 18. The Saints traded back one spot to allow Greater Western Sydney to select James Leake, landing Wilson and Adelaide’s future second-rounder in the process.
Wilson has been highly touted for some time and was one of four Murray Bushrangers selected on night one, despite being planted to the bottom of the Coates Talent League ladder this year. The hybrid midfielder-forward was a shining light with his consistent and starring performances.
St Kilda likes his well-rounded footballing profile; shaping as a smooth mover with sharp skills and terrific athletic upside – all attributes which make him a versatile prospect. Most likely, he’ll fit in as a high half-forward or wingman who can eventually pinch-hit in the midfield.
The Saints’ second first round pick came late in the piece, as they pulled the trigger on West Australian small forward Lance Collard. His creativity and energy inside forward 50 are just about unmatched, able to tear games open with his mercurial work around goal.
Collard booted five goals in each of Subiaco’s Colts finals and while parts of his top-age year drew frustration, his talent is undeniable. Other clubs, particularly West Coast who he was tied via the NGA system, were in for him if he made it through to round two.
Having addressed its need for some x-factor and class in the forward half, St Kilda next opted for some dash across half-back in the form of Angus Hastie. The Saints nabbed the Geelong Falcons graduate in between two Cats picks, making for a shrewd bit of drafting.
At 190cm, Hastie is a versatile defender capable of playing on smalls and talls, while also being good enough to lock down opponents or showcase his rebounding flair. His performance in a losing preliminary final this year was outstanding and he has done the work to improve his deficiencies.
One of the bolters of this year’s draft was Hugo Garcia, who St Kilda gave up a future third round pick to secure with pick 50. The Calder Cannons utility is a high-production player going both ways, having averaged 20 touches, seven tackles and over a goal per his 11 Coates Talent League games this year.
He was utilised up on a wing and through the Cannons’ midfield-forward rotation and clearly showed enough for the Saints to make their move despite missing out on Vic Metro honours. That factor hardly deterred Garcia, with his mid-season form proving exemplary.
From a bolter to one of the crop’s biggest sliders, Arie Schoenmaker rounded out St Kilda’s National Draft haul. The Tasmanian certainly has some things to work on but is a weapon coming out of the back line with his long left-foot kicking.
He positions well behind the ball and while he could be a more prominent marking presence, is able to intercept before turning defence into attack. Not only does Schoenmaker constantly clear 50 metres with switch kicks and rebound 50s, but he also has a penchant for slamming home goals.
St Kilda’s only other point of call at the draft was to pick up Riley Bonner in the pre-season intake, after he was delisted by Port Adelaide. Clearly, fluent ball movers and users were a priority for the Saints this year and they nabbed a bunch of players capable of doing so.
Irishman Liam O’Connell will also join the club as a Category B rookie. The 20-year-old spent time growing up in Australia as is considered quite the prospect back in Ireland. Meanwhile, Dan McKenzie‘s hopes of being re-listed have been dashed after a bumper draft crop.