You may read this headline and think just hang on a minute there, it's a long way to go before being able to say anything like that with any certainty, and that isn’t necessarily untrue. It’s just that, on this occasion, you can’t help but admire what the Saints have done to increase their chances of enjoying next season a lot more.
Then again, it won’t take much to enjoy the 2020 AFL season more when comparing it to their 2019 league campaign after the Saints finished in a disappointing 14th position. There’s no getting around the fact that it was a hard slog for the Melbourne side after suffering 13 defeats and only registering nine wins.
So in many ways, it’s not hard to see why the Saints dived into the draft with both feet after such an underwhelming 2019. The work that Saints have carried out in the draft has been so effective that they have been ranked as the best performers in the 2019 trade, which certainly makes you sit up and take a bit more notice.
All in all, the Saints landed five players, including the impressive Bradley Hill. Other noticeable incomings include Dan Butler, Dougal Howard, Zak Jones, and Paddy Ryder, which in anyone’s book is good business it has to be said. Although not everyone is convinced or is sharing the optimism right now as the Saints sit at long odds of 50/1 in Aussie Rules betting to win the Grand Final.
It may be a case of 'seeing is believing' before people start taking the chances of the Saints seriously, and naturally, to beat the likes of Richmond, the reigning Grand Final champions after annihilating the Giants by 89 points, you will need everything to go right straight from the off.
Preparation is where it starts, and a successful league campaign that culminates in being crowned as champions has to start with the building blocks being put in place long before a ball is kicked. Top recruitment during the off-season means that a team’s foundations are as solid as can be, and you'd have to say that is the first box ticked for the Saints.
It’s all about fine margins in professional sport, and the least you leave to chance the better. Drag your feet in the off-season at your peril.
There are four months left to go before the 2020 season kicks off in earnest, but in the blink of an eye, that time will pass with the gun ready to sound on a new AFL season. Thanks to the shrewd and in many instances quite dogged trading of the Saints in October, the club will undoubtedly enjoy a relaxed Christmas.
Indeed, the Saints and their army will rest up now and enjoy the festive season before marching into battle in March. The number of their troops have increased and the strength of their battalion far greater than it was 12 months ago. When it is time to go to war the men representing St Kilda Football Club will march in ready and willing to get their hands dirty.