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Geary praises leadership voting

Jarryn Geary in action during a St Kilda Saints training session at Westpac Stadium in Wellington, New Zealand, on April 24, 2013. (Photo: Lachlan Cunningham/AFL Media)
Jarryn Geary played 21 out of a possible 22 matches in 2013.
Everyone knew who was voting for who, so it was a pretty good experience to go through that.
Jarryn Geary

JARRYN Geary believes Leading Teams has already made an impact at St Kilda, with the players voting for their leadership group in front of each other in a more "transparent" process than in previous years.

The Saints announced Nick Riewoldt as captain for a ninth season on Friday, with a five-man leadership team elected beneath him.

Leigh Montagna, Lenny Hayes, Sean Dempster, David Armitage and Geary were chosen by their peers to make up the group, with no designated vice-captain.

Geary, 25, said while last season's process to pick the captain had contained similar aspects, casting votes in front of teammates this time around was a daunting new element.   

"It was pretty much done in front of the group of players and everyone could see where they stood, so it was a lot more transparent this year in terms of the votes," Geary told AFL.com.au.

"Everyone knew who was voting for who, so it was a pretty good experience to go through that.

"Obviously the players voted pretty strongly for us six boys so it was really humbling for that to happen."

Fruitless recruiting and trading for mature players in the Ross Lyon era when the Saints were close to a premiership have left the club's list with a generation of players missing.

This is emphasised in the leadership group: Hayes is the oldest at 34 and Riewoldt second at 31. Montagna and Dempster are both 30, with the former to turn 31 this year.

Armitage is 25 and seven days older than Geary.

Geary said it was obvious the club had to develop the next crop of leaders under the four veterans and felt the Leading Teams model would help to encourage the younger Saints to find their voices.

"It gives everyone a bit more of a say, not that we haven't had that in the past but with such a young group, it gives those guys the confidence to speak up in front of the group a bit more," he said.

"Whereas, if you're hiding behind the process of just six leaders, it's a bit hard for those guys to speak up.

"Leading Teams encourages everyone to be a leader and have their say, and that's probably the really good thing about doing that with such a young group."

Geary has been described by new coach Alan Richardson as a "fantastic leader" in terms of the example he sets on and off the field.

Armitage is also in that group, with Richardson keen on seeing how he grows as a leader this year as he continues to have more influence.

Hayes, who will likely retire at the end of this season, says the perceived gulf of leaders underneath the experienced stalwarts and the likes of Geary and Armitage wasn't entirely accurate.

"Jack Newnes, Seb Ross [and] Luke Dunstan have got some pretty natural leadership qualities," Hayes said.

"There's a number of guys, it's almost unfair to nominate just a few because they're all very hungry.

"They train hard, they work hard, and they're motivated.

"There's other guys I could have mentioned so I think the list is in pretty good shape."

Riewoldt will play until at least the end of the 2015 after signing a new contract in December.

While Geary isn't looking ahead to what could happen then, he does believe it's up to him and Armitage make sure they're ready to assume even more responsibility.

"The thing we need to do is build the guys up below us as well because there is sort of that gap, so if we can fast-track the younger blokes, maybe a couple next year might come up," he said.

"We're that link between the older and the younger group so that's probably a bonus of having us in there.

"I've still got those blokes I can really sponge off and learn off, and they're individually different leaders which is really good because I can take a bit from each one of them and really build my leadership.

"Being able to build behaviours and actions and learning off them is what I'll be really looking forward to this year."

 

Twitter: @AFL_JenPhelan