AAP AFL

Saints vet shuns Riewoldt’s ‘brutal’ call

By AAP Newswire

The last remaining on-field link to St Kilda's back-to-back grand final sides is shaking off former captain Nick Riewoldt's "brutal" comments questioning the club's playing group.

Fresh off the Saints returning to the winners' list against Gold Coast on Saturday, veteran defender Sam Gilbert rejected his ex-skipper's assessment that the players weren't receiving honest feedback after their dismal 2-10 start.

"I've obviously played a lot of footy with 'Roo' and he's an incredible leader, incredible bloke and a good friend of mine - and that's his opinion," Gilbert told reporters on Wednesday.

"But I see internally that ... we're trying to improve and I think (coach Alan Richardson) is really pushing to improve as a team."

Riewoldt recently revealed he was "frustrated" at a perceived lack of harsh feedback during his final years at the club in the wake of the club's embarrassing 71-point loss to Sydney in round 12.

"Rooey's been part of the team for a long period ... (but) every week we want to improve," Gilbert, the last remaining Saint selected for the club's 2009 and 2010 grand finals, said.

"That's been the main focus all year."

The 31-year-old defender wasn't part of St Kilda's pressure-releasing, comeback victory over the Suns at Metricon Stadium, but reckons the result could prove a turning point for the struggling Saints.

"It's definitely a step in the right direction," he said.

"The boys played incredibly well that last quarter. It shows a bit of the blueprint of the way that we want to play.

"If we can match that going into next week's game (against Melbourne on July 1), I'm sure we're going to be in a position to win or at least be in the game."

Despite not being picked since the Saints' round-eight loss to Fremantle, the club's oldest listed player has aspirations to break back into the senior side.

"I'm good enough to be out there with the boys," he said.

"I haven't, at this stage, lost my pace. I'd really like to help the young boys develop in whatever role that is."

The manager-less Gilbert has put off contract extension talks to the end of the season, but wants to play on with the Saints or elsewhere at the AFL level.

"I'm in no rush," he said.

"We'll sit down, we'll have a chat and I'm sure whatever the decision is it'll be mutual."