St Kilda wingman Jack Newnes arrived at Linen House Centre at the end of 2011, just months after the Saints fell to Sydney in the first week of the finals.
Since then, St Kilda hasn’t featured in September. Instead, the Saints have rebuilt from the bottom, rising steadily to be on the cusp of playing finals last year.
In that time, Newnes has played 91 games – the last 69 straight – to be an integral part of the nucleus of St Kilda’s list.
And now, on the eve of the 2017 season, Newnes says the Saints are ready to launch into the new campaign against Melbourne at Etihad Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
“It’s a very exciting game. I know the Dee’s will be coming out and throwing everything at us and vice versa, we will be throwing everything at them, so it will be a big game,” Newnes told reporters at a press conference on Monday afternoon.
“We’ve been building for a couple of years now and hopefully we can keep building throughout this year.
“There’s a couple of things we want to work on; our interstate trips haven’t been that great so we’re just trying to bridge the gap between our best performances and our worst ones. If we can do that we’ll just have to see what happens at the end of the year.”
Newnes, who finished a career-best 5th in last year’s Trevor Barker Award, is determined to help St Kilda end their finals hiatus this season.
“(I’m) very hungry. It’s my sixth year and I haven’t been in there once,” Newnes said.
“It’s always tough at the end of the year when you’re watching the finals and your team isn’t in there. I guess I’m as hungry as all the other boys.”
Etihad Stadium developed into something of a fortress for St Kilda in 2016, with Alan Richardson’s side winning eight of their last 10 games at the Docklands venue.
The Saints boast an even more formidable record against Melbourne, winning the last 14 encounters between the two sides.
Newnes believes St Kilda’s fast-paced brand of football suits the quick deck at Etihad Stadium.
“I think our brand of footy just plays well there. We’re a high pressure team and we try and move the ball pretty slick through the ground. It just happens to work at Etihad,” he said.
He may be less than two months into his tenure as St Kilda captain, but small defender Jarryn Geary is making a profound impact in the role, according to Newnes.
“He’s made a huge impact. Obviously, he’s a lot different to Nick Riewoldt but all the boys are behind him and he’s getting backed in pretty well,” he said.
“He makes a huge difference; I can’t wait to play under him.”