Lyon praises Saints before AFL finals
Before the AFL finals start, St Kilda coach Ross Lyon paid tribute to an era and also addressed an uncertain future.
THE Saints beat Carlton on Saturday night to secure a home elimination final at Etihad Stadium against Sydney.
Just making the finals appeared unlikely when the Saints came off a horror summer and only had one win and draw after eight rounds.
Immediately after beating the Blues by 20 points, Ross Lyon was in a reflective mood as he heaped praise on the core of his team – captain Nick Riewoldt, Lenny Hayes, Nick Dal Santo, Stephen Milne, Sam Gilbert, Justin Koschitzke, Sam Fisher and Brendon Goddard.
Lyon noted those team leaders had effectively led a rebuilding of the club over the last few years and had held the team together earlier this season.
While the Saints still only have the 1966 premiership, Lyon said their efforts had been outstanding.
“I suppose I’m reflecting a little bit, to acknowledge their effort over a long period,” he said.
“Ultimately (they have) fallen short, but they’ve enabled the club to grow.
“I’m the coach and I guide them, but the leaders drive the effort and preparation.
“It’s been a tough thing they’ve done, I’m really proud of them.”
Later in his news conference Lyon was asked about ruckman Michael Gardiner, who finally returned from injury to play his first AFL game since last year’s grand final draw.
Gardiner had a successful return on Saturday night before he was subbed off and it appears as if he will stay in the team for next Saturday night’s elimination final.
But Lyon admitted it was unlikely Gardiner would play beyond this season and that prompted the coach to address the state of the playing list.
“We’re not the same team and we are in some transition, we’ve had a lot of debutants,” he said.
“The list is a work in progress … clearly, at the end of the year, we know we need some regeneration and some drafting.
“One trade or two has gone bad for us, but there’s been a period of drafting that hasn’t been successful, so we’ll put a lot of resources to remedy that.
“We understand we’re still in a bit of transition and Michael sits under that banner.”
Meanwhile, St Kilda defender Jason Blake revealed on Sunday that Lyon has scotched speculation linking him to the Melbourne coaching job.
Lyon spoke to the players soon after rumours started that the Demons might try to poach him from St Kilda.
“He addressed it straight after and told us it was not true – we front up all those things in the media so there is no grey area,” Blake told Triple M.
“He was forthright in the commitment to the club.”