Saints star on the rise with team

EXPECTED to claim the club's 27th wooden spoon this season, St Kilda's players have risen to unexpected heights already, winning their first two games.

Not the least has been Mackay-bred midfielder David Armitage, who has found himself in the running for AFL mark of the year after pulling down an old-fashioned speccy during last week's win over GWS.

"Earlier on that was one of my strengths, contested marking, not getting off the ground, but just reading it better than others," the 25-year-old told APN.

"I had an opportunity to jump on someone and I did, and he sort of gave me a bit of a lift. I got lucky I think."

The rebuilding Saints may come crashing back to earth tonight, however, when they face the ladder-leading West Coast in Perth, but Armitage (pictured) said it had been "fantastic to get off to the start we have".

"Everyone picked us to get beaten, and then we win and they say, well it's only GWS and Melbourne," he said.

"But it does give us some confidence, (and) it just shows the work we put in over pre-season is paying off, with our tackle pressure and our contested footy, and the way the young guys are conducting themselves."

St Kilda finished 16th in 2013 - just three seasons after drawing a grand final - and it was a further summer of upheaval with the loss of key players Ben McEvoy and Nick Dal Santo and the sacking of coach Scott Watters, replaced in November by Alan Richardson.

"It was a bit of a shock," Armitage said of Watters' demise.

"Most of the boys were away on holidays, but you've just got to trust that the club is doing the right thing. And Richo's been really good for us."

Armitage is sporting a cropped haircut, but didn't have it shaved for aerodynamic purposes, instead to raise money for the Leukaemia Foundation.

"I'm trying to grow it back as fast as I can, watering it everyday," he joked.

- TERRY MALLINDER



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