Saints take pressure off Max King in AFL flag pursuit

St Kilda teammates are wary Max King can feel the weight of the world on his troublesome shoulder at times.

Nick Riewoldt's successor in the famous No.12 jumper, King has been touted as the man to lead the Saints to a long-awaited second premiership since he walked through the doors at Moorabbin.

But those who run out alongside King don't expect any miracles from the 23-year-old spearhead when their September campaign kicks off with an elimination final against GWS.

"A lot of the chat about Max is about what he's going to do and what he's going to be, but internally nobody expects him to go out there and dominate each week," fellow Saints forward Tim Membrey told AAP.

"We just want him to compete and with the way that he goes about his contest now, he's got that bit of ferociousness about him and it gives a lot of us confidence.

"He's still a young man and probably feels the weight that he has to kick goals, but there certainly hasn't been that pressure internally."

King missed the first nine games of the season after shoulder surgery and looked done for the year when he re-injured the joint in round 17.

Coach Ross Lyon declared King's campaign over, in what looked at the time like a hammer blow to the Saints' finals hopes.

But his surprise return four weeks later, coupled with Membrey's recovery from a knee injury, has refuelled St Kilda's forward line for what Lyon dubs the "real season" in September.

If the strong-marking pair can rediscover the form that led them to a combined 86 goals last year, complementing the league's tightest defence in the process, then anything is possible.

"We've played a lot of footy together and in the two games we did play together (last month) we picked it up straight away," Membrey said.

"We know the way we liked the ball kicked to each other, our movements and where each other are on the ground.

"We've been training together a lot, so that helps too."

Young forwards Mitch Owens, Anthony Caminiti and Mattaes Phillipou helped carry the load in attack this season with King and Membrey out injured for long periods.

Meanwhile, small forwards Jack Higgins (35) and Dan Butler (33) have compiled career-best goal tallies to steer the Saints into their first finals series since 2020.

"Those smalls have been super dangerous for us at ground level and kicked a lot of goals between them," Membrey said.

"They've really driven the standards in the forward line and we all complement each other nicely."

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