Josh Battle thrived down back last season. Picture: Michael Klein.
Josh Battle thrived down back last season. Picture: Michael Klein.

Ratten: Young Saint the ‘ultimate swingman’

St Kilda coach Brett Ratten has lauded youngster Josh Battle, labelling him the 'ultimate swingman' after smashing both of the club's pre-season time-trials.

The 193cm tall finished third in the Saints' first three kilometre time trial in November and backed it up with a top-five showing in the New Year.

Playing as a forward early in his career, Battle was forced into defence at the beginning of last season in the absence of mainstay Jake Carlisle.

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Josh Battle has shown potential at both ends. Picture: Michael Klein
Josh Battle has shown potential at both ends. Picture: Michael Klein

The 21-year-old shone in the role, showcasing his intercepting prowess and pinpoint kicking out of defence, playing 19 games for the season.

Ratten believes Battle gives the Saints great flexibility and even floated a potential move into the midfield for the emerging youngster.

"To do what he can do as a big fella, I think he's got enormous flexibility," Ratten said on SEN.

"We don't want to confuse him by playing him here, there and everyone but he is probably your ultimate swingman."

"We played him back last year for a big chunk and he's got the ability to play forward as we know but with that running power, could he play through a wing or the midfield as well?"

The new Saints coach is also excited by the prospect of former No. 4 draft pick Max King, who is set to make his long awaited debut after injury curtailed his debut season.

While he isn't at full capacity just yet, Ratten assured Saints fans that they will definitely see the young talent in action in 2020.

"Max is progressing really well. He's done around 75 per cent of the work before Christmas but now after the Christmas break he's probably closer to 90-95 per cent.

"He's still a young man and still developing and learning his craft, he hasn't played football for a long time.

"But we know he has enormous talent and we'll try to get as many games into him this year as we can."


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