Sport AFL AFL Big Sticks: Ratts is back as Saints surge
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AFL Big Sticks: Ratts is back as Saints surge

Smiles all round for the Saints as interim coach Brett Ratten joins his players in the rooms. Photo: Getty
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“If it keeps going like this, it’s a great job”, said interim St Kilda coach Brett Ratten after his club’s second win since he assumed the job – a measure of an experienced coach who has been through the ringer himself.

The re-emergence of Ratten as a serious contender for the St Kilda coaching job has been tinged with sadness for his former boss Alan Richardson and also his first-hand knowledge of the AFL merry-go-round.

The Saints have won their two games under Ratten, who left Carlton in 2012 with a 60-59 win-loss record with one draw.

But Ratten knows that the wins could well be fleeting and that at this stage he is finishing off Richardson’s work for 2019.

“I spoke to Richo last night. He came back from Bali,” Ratten said after the Saints’ 19-point win over Melbourne on Saturday night.

We had a debrief of the game from last week. He watched. He was very pleased for the players and all the people at the football club. We chatted about it.

“It’s just been probably a bit [of a tweak] to the program. Maybe a little bit in positional changes to the group. We’ve had some different focuses, I suppose.

“It hasn’t been like we’ve just turned the game plan upside down and play this way and do that. It’s been subtle changes. I think maybe sometimes the messaging is a bit different from me and him. But
it’s not much in it.”

And on the likelihood of him getting the top job next year?

“We’ve had two good wins. We played good footy. We’re not getting ahead of ourselves. We have a lot of work to do. The pleasing aspect is when you go into that room afterwards and the smiles on some of the players faces …

“Those kids they’re enjoying their time. Playing well. And gelling together.”

Tough at the top for Crows, Dockers coaches

And while North Melbourne’s Rhyce Shaw and Carlton’s David Teague are also enjoying their time as interim coaches, spare a thought for the top men who are struggling to hold it together.

Port Adelaide great Kane Cornes lined up Adelaide coach Don Pyke on the weekend, saying he has lost the support of his players and there are numerous other problems at the AFL club.

The Crows walk off after another humiliating loss. Photo: Getty 

“I don’t think they’re a happy group at Adelaide now, and you have to question whether Don Pyke has lost the player group,” Cornes told the Sunday Footy Show on Channel 9 after the Crows loss to Carlton

“He’s got until 2021 … but I don’t think that will matter in this instance (if the Crows want to axe him).

“You’ve got their player retention (issues) at Adelaide for the last five years – Charlie Cameron breaks a contract to go, Mitch McGovern breaks a contract to go. You’ve got assistant coaches breaking contracts to leave that club.

“Josh Francou came from Sydney, back to his home state of South Australia, and a year into his contract (at Adelaide) he walks out and he’s joined Stuart Dew at Gold Coast.”

When asked where the problems have stemmed from, Cornes replied: “I don’t know. It can only be because he (Pyke) has lost the playing group.”

Meanwhile at Fremantle Ross Lyon is also facing a troubled run to the finals saying he was “quite embarrassed” by Sunday’s loss to the Western Bulldogs.

“I thought the second half probably flattered us a little bit, even though at least we gathered ourselves a bit. There were a lot of fingers to be put in a lot of dykes to be truthful. We’ve been a lot better than that,” Lyon said.

The loss is a major blow to Fremantle’s finals hopes, leaving Lyon’s men in 12th spot with a poor percentage and four games left in the home-and-away season.

Bombers leave it to the last moment

Essendon has had a great month of football, but almost brought it all undone with an away loss to cellar dwellers Gold Coast.

Only some last-minute heroics by Cale Hooker gave the Bombers the win and a firm hold on a top-eight spot.

Hooker came to the rescue with a long goal after Chris Burgess had given the Suns a two-point lead and the chance to break a 13-game losing streak.

The Bombers win saved some embarrassment for the AFL, with a clear Essendon goal earlier in the match deemed to be play on – prompting outrage from fans and commentators.

Beams is back, but will he play?

Collingwood has been under siege of late with injury and poor form, but Collingwood midfielder Dayne Beams will offer a boost when he returns to the club on Monday.

Beams has been having a mental health break. And while it remains unclear if he will resume playing, his teammates will no doubt be glad to see him back.

Beams stepped away from the Magpies in early July, saying he was a “broken man” and needed time away to sort through some issues.

The 29-year-old was dealing with a serious hip injury at the time, and he still faces a race to play again before finals this year.

Magpie Dayne Beams before his break from football. Photo: Getty 

“It is anticipated that Dayne will speak publicly about his recent period of leave once he has settled back into the program,” Collingwood said in a statement.

“But until such time the club asks that his privacy be respected.”

Not great news on the injury front however, with midfielder Jordan De Goey and defender Isaac Quaynor ruled out of next Sunday’s home clash with Gold Coast.

Scans showed Quaynor suffered a foot stress injury during Friday night’s loss to Richmond, while De Goey has a low-grade hamstring strain.

with AAP