James Gwilt
James Gwilt

St Kilda defender James Gwilt says he is in a good space mentally and physically heading into the new AFL season.

Gwilt played 14 games last season as he recovered from a knee reconstruction and he has taken confidence from the pre-season work he has been able to do leading into 2013.

"This time last year I could hardly run. It's a massive difference mentally and physically knowing that I've done pretty much the majority of the training sessions and I've got good running and good miles into my legs. I'm feeling pretty good," he said.

"I've had certain goals for training. Get my running back to where it was a couple of years ago. Obviously with the knee (injury) I couldn't do as much running last year. It's pretty good and my fitness is pretty good at the moment."

Gwilt is part of the St Kilda contingent of players and officials in New Zealand's capital, Wellington, to promote their Anzac Day game against Sydney.

But the group of 10 Saints players were more observers than participants during a cross-code session with Super Rugby side the Hurricanes.

Midfielder David Armitage had been looking forward to training alongside the Hurricanes players after sitting in on their team meeting.

"They are a lot bigger than me so I'd have to back my running ability to run around them," he joked.

"Their pre-game meeting is pretty much exactly like ours but if we can get some tips off them to do with tackling and maybe we can teach them a thing or two about kicking it's only going to make us better and improve."

Despite having another good season last year, which followed on from his breakthrough 2011, Armitage said his running ability was an area he could improve.

"Off the field, the drills that we do running-wise I'm OK at. It's my on-ground running from contest to contest, that really gut-running stuff and really pushing yourself, that's where I think I can get better," he said.

"I've even tried that during training in pre-season and if I can take that into games it can only be of benefit.

"It's just about training your brain and pushing through that pain and getting the results. When you're tired your body tells you to stop but your mind can actually do a lot more than what your body says to do.

"The top level players can do that (push through the pain) so that's what I've got to work towards."

Improving their defence is another area Armitage says the club are focused on after missing out on finals last season.

"A lot of our attacking indicators are in the top four which to play in premierships you want to be top-four attack and defence. Our defence wasn't as good," he said.

"We were about mid-rank and that's where we finished in ninth.

"We lost a lot of close games about five or six games within a kick. If that little bit of luck goes your way then you're playing in the finals, but unfortunately we didn't.

"We've been pretty lucky as a club to have played in three grand finals in the last four years. A lot of people are writing us off but if we believe in ourselves we can do whatever we want."


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