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Jenkins defends St Kilda forward King amid form and body language concerns


Josh Jenkins has come to the defence of Max King after Kane Cornes criticised the St Kilda forward for his body language.

Cornes criticised King on SEN's Sportsday for looking sad, having his shoulders slumped and not expressing himself amid a below-par season so far in which he’s kicked nine goals from six games.

The Port Adelaide great thinks King will lift his teammates if he lifts his energy as the Saints struggle with a 3-6 record after nine rounds.

While King’s scoreboard output has been down on his 2022 and 2023 averages, Jenkins thinks that he’s only dropped away 25 per cent and he believes that some of that is due to some dysfunctional work up the ground.

“I’d be sad too if I played in that forward line,” Jenkins said on SEN Breakfast.

“The other aspect for me is he's the easiest target. How often is a tall forward the easiest target? A midfielder could drop 25 per cent on your disposals … if you average 25, you’re dropping down to around 20.

“You can still mount the case, ‘Oh, he's had 20, he’s had 21, he’s had a bit of the ball, he still had five clearances, he still had four inside 50s’.

“From a tall forward perspective, Max King's only ever been around 12 possessions a game type of player.

“You take 25 per cent away from him and all of a sudden, you're looking at seven or eight touches, maybe only three marks, maybe only one or two shots on goal.

“So, it's easy to go after the forward when the team's not performing that well.”

Jenkins spoke about St Kilda’s unwillingness to move the ball at speed as several of their key users have been hampered by injury or form in 2024.

He compared King to Fremantle’s Josh Treacy who is thriving this season with 19 goals from nine games as the Dockers use the ball with more speed and decisiveness compared to 2023.

“St Kilda's ball movement and run and sizzle or lack thereof has been obvious,” Jenkins said.

“The deeper the season is running, the less they are willing to move the ball with speed, despite the fact they do have enough in my opinion who are good kicks or better than good kicks who can run and create and keep speed on the game.

“The last time I checked their home ground is Marvel Stadium. They should be playing the game with speed, they should be using Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera, they should be using Brad Hill, and they should be using Jack Sinclair better than they are.

“Sinclair's never really got going this season, that's fair, he has not got going yet to the levels that we've seen in the past couple of years. Wanganeen-Milera probably gets a bit more attention than he did at the start of the year. Hill's form's been, I'd say, has been rock solid.

“Liam Henry (who has been injured) is a player that most clubs need. You need someone who will take a mark in an ordinary situation and just play on because that's what they do. Movement creates movement.

“When the ball's moving and Fremantle have had similar issues, ask Josh Treacy at Fremantle what it was like last year when they were kicking the ball sideways and backwards versus what it's been like at different stages this year … you are always as a forward, a victim of circumstance.”

Jenkins also thinks that King hasn’t benefitted from having another true tall number two forward to take some attention away, while he also believes he’s performing well at this stage of his career compared to some experienced forwards who are considered stars of the competition.

“King's performances this year have not been sensational, there's no doubt about it, but we need to remember he's yet to turn 24 Max King and he's never had a wingman in terms of a sizeable key forward,” Jenkins said.

“Tim Membrey is nothing more than a hybrid forward, a hard-working forward.

“He’s never had someone who can help him stand under the packs and take the high marks.

“In year three, Jack Riewoldt kicked 32 goals.

“Tex Walker kicked 32, Josh Kennedy kicked seven (from seven games at West Coast), Tom Hawkins kicked 34 and Joe Daniher kicked 34.

“Max King kicked 50 plus and had 100 shots on goal.”

King will hope to return to form in a big way when the Saints face the Dockers at Marvel Stadium on Saturday night.

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