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Saint seeks wisdom of ages

Nathan Schmook, AFL Media  January 28, 2016 9:19 AM

AFL 2015 Training - St Kilda 130315

'Joey' (Montagna) went away and he asked the question of both 'Boomer' Harvey and Dustin Fletcher, and in their opinion that was really important to them, that they just got out there and kept training.

St Kilda midfielder Leigh Montagna reached out to 400-game veterans Brent Harvey and Dustin Fletcher over the summer to find out how he could keep playing at a high level in his 15th season.

Their advice, which has helped Harvey play on into a 21st season, was to be a regular on the track and avoid training load management as much as possible.  

It backed up a belief among St Kilda's senior players that being put in cotton wool in their final seasons was not the best option.

"We have guys that have been around for a while that are not only able to do the work, but philosophically they think it's important that they do the work," coach Alan Richardson told AFL.com.au.   

"'Joey' (Montagna) went away and he asked the question of both 'Boomer' Harvey and Dustin Fletcher, and in their opinion that was really important to them, that they just got out there and kept training.

"So we have a group that like to be out there and train and tick off the sessions, even if they're a little bit stiff and a little bit sore from a senior end."

The Saints' four 30-plus players – Nick Riewoldt, Sean Dempster, Sam Fisher and Montagna – remain vital to the team's performance and all finished top 10 in last year's best and fairest.

They are part of a young list, however, that is having its workload increased in the third season of Richardson's tenure.   

"The next level with guys like Seb Ross, Jack Newnes, Jimmy Webster – those guys that have been here for three, four, five years – they've picked up," the coach said.

"First-year players are doing about 70 per cent (of the training) and second-years are doing about 85 per cent.

"They've got a bit of belief out of last year … we saved 44 more goals, we kicked an extra 29 goals and there was real clarity around how they achieved that.

"They understand what they need to do to grow and improve as a team."

The growing influence of St Kilda's young players could be underlined when the club's new leadership group is announced.

The Saints have completed their leadership voting and confirmation of their official leaders, which already included Jack Newnes and Maverick Weller in 2015, is imminent.