Hannah Priest has been appointed as the sole captain of St Kilda’s AFLW side for Season 2022.

The 29-year-old – who served as one of four co-captains last season – will be flanked by co-vice-captains Rhiannon Watt and Kate Shierlaw, and extended leadership group members Bianca Jakobsson and Tilly Lucas-Rodd.

Rosie Dillon, Tarni White and Nicola Xenos will also form an Emerging Leaders group, a new addition to the Saints’ AFLW program.

Priest has played every game for the club since being selected with pick No. 41 in the 2019 AFL Women’s Draft, finishing Season 2021 with St Kilda’s AFLW Crest Award and a top-10 finish at the club’s Best & Fairest.

“I’m honoured and humbled to be appointed captain of St Kilda. It’s a great privilege,” Priest said.

“I’ve learnt so much over the past few years when it comes to leadership, especially last season alongside Kate, Rhi and Cat, but taking on the mantle myself will be an exciting and challenging next step.

“We’ve got such an amazing group of girls who I’m really proud to lead, and I’m looking forward to seeing how our group can grow moving forward.”

Head of AFLW Tessie McManus said Priest’s appointment was a credit to her character and how she approaches being part of a team both on and off the field.

“Hannah is a player who continues to lead by example. She is relentless on-field and plays with courage and heart, but also shows incredible empathy and kindness where appropriate,” McManus said.

Her influence on those around her has been immense and we’re eager to see that develop further with her taking up the responsibility as sole captain.

- Tessie McManus

“She will be ably assisted by Rhiannon and Kate, with support from Bianca and Tilly, who are all very strong leaders in their own right.

“It’s also great to have our new emerging leaders in Tarni, Rosie and Nicola. These girls, whose average age is barely over 21, will work closely with Paddy Hill and other football department staff to purposefully grow their leadership skills over the next 12 months.

“All of these appointments really set us up for sustained leadership and growth for several years to come, which is exciting for our club.”

Leadership positions were finalised following a rigorous month-long process. Following an open nomination process, candidates were short-listed then formally interviewed by Senior Coach Nick Dal Santo, Head of Football Tessie McManus and Head of Development Paddy Hill. Taking peer nominations and interview performance into consideration, a formal recommendation was then taken to the Board for final ratification.