Ahmed Saad looks set for bigger things in 2013
His first season at the club was really impressive. He's eager to learn, he's hungry to be an AFL player, and he's got a real inner belief and drive that helped him throughout the year.
On the rise: Ahmed Saad
At a glance: A latecomer to Australian football having represented Egypt in soccer as a youth, Saad caught recruiters' attention with a 50-goal season for the Northern Bullants in 2011. After he ran the quickest time over 20m at the NAB AFL Combine later that year, St Kilda signed him via a trade deal with Greater Western Sydney. The move has already started to pay dividends, with the small forward booting 28 goals in 16 games last season to take out the club's most promising player award. The 23-year-old overcame some challenges to make an impact in his first year. An injury during pre-season slowed him down, and he had to wait until round six to debut. A practicing Muslim, he then went 30 days without consuming food or water during daylight hours for Ramadan in July/August. All the while, Saad continued to provide a vital injection of speed to the Saints' forward line. His lengthy set shot routine also gained attention, but proved extremely effective.
Plays like: He's no carbon copy, but Saad looms as the long-term replacement for the club's champion small forward Stephen Milne. The pair worked a lot together over the past year and form an imposing combination at ground level inside forward 50.
Killer quality: Speed. Saad is lightning quick, making him both an offensive threat and a danger to opposition backmen trying to clear the ball from defence. Assistant coach Adam Kingsley says Saad is still working on his defensive pressure, which is frightening for opponents considering how good it already is.
Best performance: Saad debuted against Hawthorn in round six, but really announced his arrival three weeks later against the Sydney Swans. In that game, he kicked 2.3 and laid a phenomenal 11 tackles as the Saints scored an upset 28-point win to mark Lenny Hayes' 250th.
What they say: "His first season at the club was really impressive. He's eager to learn, he's hungry to be an AFL player, and he's got a real inner belief and drive that helped him throughout the year. He's also got a bit of cheekiness about him, as most small forwards do, and he's learning a whole lot more of that from 'Milney' the more time he spends with him." – St Kilda forwards coach Adam Kingsley
Stats that matter:
Third in goals (28)
Ninth in marks inside 50 (12 @ 0.75)
Tenth in tackles (52 @ 3.25)
Conversion rate of 65.1 per cent