AFL commentator Robert Walls says he is pleased to eat his words after dismissing St Kilda's premiership chances prior to this season.
When the Saints bowed out of the finals in the first week last September and lost coach Ross Lyon to Fremantle just a few days later, Walls was convinced the club's premiership window had been slammed shut after they went agonisingly close in 2009 and 2010.
But the former Carlton and Brisbane coach has liked what he's seen of the Saints so far in 2012, with impressive results in the last three weeks over Carlton and Sydney suggesting St Kilda could go deep in September.
"I don't think you can dismiss them, because a lot of things are in their favour," Walls told ''TSI AFL'' on Thursday when asked whether the Saints were a genuine contender for the 2012 flag.
"I'm one of those that wrote them off," Walls admitted.
"I thought their premiership window had absolutely closed but I'm very pleased to say that I think it might be just starting to open a little bit.
"They've been very good, five wins, four losses, they're in the hunt for the eight and the impressive thing for me is that they're averaging a hundred points a game.
"Last year they were averaging 84 (85.95 after Round 22), now that's almost three goals a game better off this year."
Walls felt St Kilda's higher scoring this season could be attributed to a number of factors, starting with champion Lenny Hayes returning from a knee injury that saw him miss all but two games last year.
But Walls also felt the club's crop of exciting youngsters was helping the improved output, as speedy forwards Terry Milera and Ahmed Saad were combining beautifully with veterans Stephen Milne, Nick Riewoldt and Justin Koschitzke in the forward third.
Under former coach Lyon, the Saints were notoriously reluctant to field younger players but Walls feels with Scott Watters at the helm, the new coach's faith in young talent is being richly rewarded.
"A lot of the credit has to be given to the new coach," Walls said.
"I think he's encouraged them to take more risks, to move the ball more quickly, get it into the forward line and give players like Riewoldt, Milne and Koschitze a chance to do their thing and the three veterans haven't let the coach down.
"But I think the other thing that's been impressive is that there's been some fresh blood come into this St Kilda line-up.
"A lot of new players coming into this St Kilda team, I think it's rejuvenated the old.
"So I just have a feeling don't underestimate this St Kilda team, because I think there's a bit of resolve there."
Walls' opinion has been supported by the likes of Hayes, who says he's proud to be helping a new Saints midfield emerge.
"I sat back (last year) and watched their development and tried to have a little bit of input there," Hayes said.
"And just their thirst for knowledge and their willingness to improve, it's really given the older guys a lift to be honest.
"I think we feed off that as well, so I'm loving playing with them."It's really exciting and some of the other guys have added to the team, it's a good place to be around and ... we know our best can compete with anyone and we're looking forward to the challenges ahead."