Coach backs McCartin after tough AFL game

Roger Vaughan

After an AFL game where everything went wrong for Paddy McCartin, St Kilda coach Alan Richardson has great faith that a lot will go right.

The No.1 draft pick had an afternoon to forget in the Saints' 39-point loss to Melbourne at Etihad Stadium.

First his diabetes flared early in the match, meaning the key forward spent time on the bench for blood tests.

Then he collided with Melbourne defender Neville Jetta, raising fears McCartin had suffered another concussion.

McCartin's AFL career so far has been plagued by concussion issues, but a test at halftime put him in the clear.

While he was able to return to the field, eventually whiplash from the Jetta collision put McCartin out of the game in the last quarter.

McCartin only managed two behinds and also another shot at goal on the run went well wide.

Still, Richardson noted that McCartin's form had been building in the previous few weeks and this is the first time he has played seven games in succession.

"He's a young person who's had some challenges, but we think fundamentally he's made of the right stuff," Richardson said.

The Saints coach was asked if McCartin can live up to the expectations heaped on a No.1 draft pick.

"I know what our expectations are, and that is that he becomes a really, strong aggressive target for us ... a bit like (Tom) Hawkins at Geelong," Richardson said.

"At times it means you'll get opportunities to score, but more often not these days - 75 per cent of entries end up on the ground.

"Forwards have to play a really significant role in bringing (the ball) to ground, so some of the more creative defenders don't mark the ball.

"Paddy is going to be the player we want, absolutely."