Saints must up AFL skill levels: Ratten

St Kilda caretaker AFL coach Brett Ratten says his squad must improve their skill levels.
St Kilda caretaker AFL coach Brett Ratten says his squad must improve their skill levels.

St Kilda caretaker coach Brett Ratten has warned hIs AFL club must improve their skill levels, irrespective of whether he gets the job on a permanent basis.

The Saints finished 3-3 under Ratten, ending their 2019 season with a 9-13 record after a 45-point last-round loss to Sydney at the SCG.

Ratten lamented a host of skill errors and missed scoring opportunities in the middle quarters. The Saints had recovered from a 21-point quarter-time deficit to lead by three in the third before Sydney kicked 11 of the last 14 goals.

"I thought we left the season with just a little sour taste in our mouth because of the way we used the footy," Ratten said.

"Our skill level is not at the level that's needed and that's something that is going to have to change, whether I'm the coach or not.

"Because if we don't improve in that space, players can't play here and we have to get players that can develop and improve in that space or we have to recruit them to come into our footy club."

He suggested the trade period would be important and the Saints could develop quicker than expected with the addition of the right talent.

Ratten expected to learn in the next seven to 10 days whether he gets appointed as full-time coach.

''A decision will be made, good, bad or indifferent," Ratten said.

"I'll have to put my tail between my legs or I'll have a big smile on my face.

"But I've really enjoyed the six weeks and the spirit of the football club and what I hopefully look forward to is the opportunity.

"We haven't played brilliant footy this year and we've still won nine games.

"We had a lot of players out and went through a lot of adversity, so there is some upside to this team and that's exciting.

"Some of the players in the second half (of the season) especially really developed.

"You can look at (Hunter) Clark and (Rowan) Marshall and these types that really took the next step in their footy and started to make a name for themselves and they are only young men.

"If we can add some talent around them, this group could move a bit quicker than people think."

Former Swan Dan Hannebery, limited to five games by injuries in his first campaign with the Saints, tallied a personal season-high 28 touches.

"He finished the year nice and strong and he's going to be a good player for our footy club for another three of four years," Ratten said.

Australian Associated Press