Saints’ Armitage stars again in AFL

St Kilda midfielder David Armitage has credited a pre-season chat with coach Alan Richardson as a major factor in his strong AFL form.

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Armitage had a career-high 45 possessions on Saturday as the Saints came from a whopping 55 points down early in the third quarter to improbably beat the Western Bulldogs by seven points.

It followed another best-afield performance from Armitage the week before in the narrow loss to Essendon.

The 26-year-old has played 113 games and would be a clear leader in the club best and fairest so far this year.

“It’s a little bit to do with Richo having a few words with me pre-season,” Armitage told Channel Nine’s The Footy Show.

“He said ‘if you can get your fitness up and drop a few (kilograms)’ … he put belief in me that I could be a really good player, one of the premier ‘mids’ in the comp.

“I’ve started to believe that myself and going out thinking I can do that.”

Armitage also paid credit to his partner Jessie Hultgren, saying their relationship had given him stability and that he was “growing up – about time.”

Another star in the Saints’ big win was forward Jack Billings, who kicked three last-quarter goals.

Captain Nick Riewoldt predicts big things for Billings, who came to the club via the No.3 pick in the 2013 draft.

“He’s been spending a bit more time in the midfield,” Riewoldt told Channel Seven’s Game Day.

“He has that ability – once he continues to build his ‘tank’ (running endurance).

“We know he has an elite talent.

“He has great skills, great polish.”

Riewoldt said it was no surprise to him that Billings had such a major role in the last quarter.

“That’s the sort of player he is,” Riewoldt said.

“The challenge for him as a young guy is to be able to do that consistently.”