St Kilda coach Brett Ratten has leapt to the defence of forward Max King, saying he’d ‘go to war’ with the young star, despite his shaky goal-kicking performance in the Saints’ loss to Brisbane.
The 21-year-old struggled mightily in front of goal against the Lions, kicking five behinds in the 81-66 defeat at Marvel Stadium.
King’s efforts were savaged by fans and pundits on social media, but Ratten was circumspect in his post-game analysis, saying King has the work ethic to quickly bounce back from the disappointing showing.
“It’s part of the game and you look through great forwards to have played the game, they’ve had a night where they haven’t scored like they wanted to,” Ratten told the press during the post match media conference.
“The pleasing part we know about Max is that Tuesday was a day off for the players and he was at Marvel Stadium for an hour-and-a-half having goal-kicking practice.
“Every day we’re at the footy club or not at the footy club he’s there having extra goal-kicking and really rehearsing and fine-tuning his game to make sure he gets the opportunity to score on game-day. He’s doing a power of work."
Ratten gave an impassioned defence of the young forward, openly declaring King had the potential to go down as a great of the league.
Despite St Kilda's hopes of finals football were most likely dashed as a result of the 15-point loss to the Lions, Ratten said King had shown continued improvement throughout the year, and that there was no reason that trend wouldn't continue in future.
“What I do know is I want Max King in my corner. He’ll be at our footy club for 10 years and when we look back we’ll be saying what a great player he is and what he’s done. Tonight he had a night where it didn’t work for him.
“He did everything right but finish, for great forwards that’s happened in the game. He’s 21 years of age, we love what he brings to the footy club, he’s developing and we know that he’s doing the work. Sometimes you don’t get the reward all the time but he’ll keep doing that and you watch, he’ll turn it around.”
There is no more excruciating sight in football than watching Max King kicking for goal.
— Daniel Cherny (@DanielCherny) August 12, 2022
Max King may just be the Lions’ best player tonight… #AFLSaintsLions
— TAB (@tabcomau) August 12, 2022
No routine at al king. Different every time! Goal kicking isn’t hard when done and taught right! #aflsaintslions
— Jay Schulz (@Jschulz28) August 12, 2022
Saints kicking themselves out of finals contention.
— Tim Gossage 🤓 (@TimGossage) August 12, 2022
Saints stand by Max King after brutal goalkicking errors
Ratten said it was hard to attribute any one factor as the cause of King’s off night.
“I wouldn‘t say high pressure, I think sometimes the goal-kicking, it’s got so many elements to it,” he said.
“It’s the technical aspect, the mental aspect, the fatigue, what part of the ground, people score from different parts and score easier when the ball is on the right side versus the left.
“I want to go to war with Max because he delivers and he will deliver.”
Last season, King personally asked for St Kilda to bring on former Essendon forward Matthew Lloyd to help with his goal-kicking, only for the request to be turned down by the powers that be at the Saints.
Imagine telling Matthew Lloyd he can’t give free goalkicking advice to Max King, somebody he cares about, because you’re so insecure about your own job. Infuriating.#AFLSaintsLions
— Jake Bourke (@JakeBourke) August 12, 2022
Ratten said King, who has kicked 47 goals so far this season, did not require any additional coaching to overcome the slump.
“He won‘t be seeing anybody outside the club, he doesn’t need to. We’ve got people with the skillset to keep working there,” he said.
“As I said to you, it’s not just all about the technical aspect, there’s a mental aspect to it as well. With goal-kicking, it’s a closed skill and there’s different elements to it.
“It’s not just we bring somebody in and they fix up the hand drop or anything like that. He hasn’t got many flaws, but sometimes it can go against you.”
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