Former Hawthorn sharpshooter Ben Dixon believes St Kilda forward Max King will be an AFL “superstar” with Lance Franklin-like potential to kick bags of goals – and lots of them.

It comes as Saints champion Leigh Montagna declared King had “come of age” over the past fortnight following two dominant, match-turning displays against both Fremantle and Richmond.

After kicking 3.1 in the third term against Fremantle to inspire St Kilda’s Round 2 win, King delivered another epic quarter seven days later against Richmond, booting 4.1 from seven disposals and six marks (all taken inside forward 50) to help the Saints claim a remarkable 33-point win.

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The 21-year-old now sits equal-second on the Coleman Medal leaderboard with nine goals for the season to date, one behind Kangaroos forward Nick Larkey.

Speaking on Fox Footy’s First Crack on Sunday night, Dixon said King’s ability to generate so many shots at goal during a game reminded him of Franklin – and, therefore, the Saints forward would deliver large goal tallies in many games.

“We’re looking at the next Buddy Franklin,” Dixon told First Crack, “because two shots at goal a quarter, he’s having eight shots (in a game). He’s going to kick a bag of goals, this boy.

Max King kicks 4 in the fourth! | 00:51

“That’s my statement. We’ve got another Buddy. He won’t get 1000 (goals) because you’ve got to play 18 years to do that, but longevity in the game now, he’s going to kick a lot of goals.

“I just thought (on Sunday), he put it all to rest. He’s going to be a superstar.

“And when you’re getting that many shots at goal, you’re going to kick some big bags.”

Montagna said King had an “enormous” influence during his side’s win over Richmond.

“Max King is now everything that Saints fans hoped for. I don’t think they have to wait any longer,” Montagna told First Crack.

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“He kicked the four goals in the second half last week after hardly touching it. Three quarter-time (against Richmond), the game was still up for grabs … I think he’d taken one mark (by) the third quarter. He had seven shots for goal in this last quarter. He was dominant – and that’s everything the Saints fans wanted to see.

“He’s come of age. He’s now the player that they can turn to and he’s now got the belief that if things aren’t going his way, he can still influence the game. He was enormous.”

After a disappointing Round 1 loss to Collingwood, King’s Saints have won their past two games to sit just outside the top eight with a healthy percentage of 110.

Saints run all over Tigers to take win | 02:24

Dixon labelled the Saints’ win over the Tigers as a “statement game”.

“Richmond threw everything at them and the old St Kilda, with the way they’ve played their football, they would’ve turned their toes up – and they didn’t (on Sunday). They fought back and they fought back hard … They were very impressive,” he said.

Montagna said the question mark over his former club in recent seasons had been its “resilience” and ability to flip momentum in games. But those doubts had been quashed in recent weeks.

“We saw it (against) Fremantle – they were behind at half-time, they found a way to win and it was off the back of Max King – and (on Sunday) they did the same thing,” he said.

“They were under all sorts of pressure, 25 points down and what I loved about their response, they found a way to turn the wheel. They got the momentum back late in the third quarter and then (King) set it alight in the fourth quarter.

“This was a real statement game from St Kilda. They can go on with this and play finals now if they can continue to play like that week-in, week-out.”

St Kilda press conference | 08:20

Besides King, Jade Gresham’s performance was one of the most pleasing signs for Saints fans.

After injury restricted him to just 14 games across the 2020 and 2021 seasons, Gresham has had a blistering start to his 2022 campaign, punctuated by a career-best performance against Richmond where he finished with 32 disposals. 18 contested possessions, 10 score involvements and four clearances.

Montagna said Gresham’s presence in the midfield had given the Saints a new-found energy.

“What I think has changed is Jade Gresham is back into the side … He is that elite A-grade player. He was best on ground (on Sunday),” he said.

“Him and Jack Sinclair going into midfield has changed them from being this one-paced, all similar types in the midfield to all of a sudden they’re dynamic out of there. They can burst, they can get on the outside giving their forwards good looks.”

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