Glum and drizzly Mondays are the perfect backdrop for any sleep-in, but there was no lounging around for St Kilda’s returning players as the 2024 pre-season officially commenced for the club’s first-to-fourth-year cohort.

Although pencilled in as an introductory week for the Saints’ younger players before the full group returned next Monday, a near-40-strong brigade descended on a drizzly RSEA Park to kick off the pre-season on a strong note between a 90-minute training session on the deck and weights session post-lunch.

Skipper Jack Steele, Max King, Rowan Marshall and Callum Wilkie were a number of players to check in ahead of schedule, with Dan Butler, Brad Crouch, Bradley Hill, Zak Jones, Seb Ross, Dougal Howard and Mason Wood also among some of the more senior heads to complement the fresh-faced Saints.

Steele arrived with draftees Angus Hastie and Arie Schoenmaker as their life as AFL footballers became reality, while Lance Collard came with pillow and suitcase in tow as he prepares to move in with Bradley Hill for a few weeks after making the move from Western Australia to Victoria.

Collard offered a brief snapshot of his skills by foot despite the inclement weather, skidding through several shots from all sorts of angles with Butler and Jack Higgins as witnesses, before cutting some laps alongside fellow draftees Darcy Wilson, Hastie and Schoenmaker, plus Category B Rookie Liam O’Connell.

Schoenmaker’s booming kick took a backseat as the Saints completed a short-kicking drill heading into attack in the opening minutes, before some closer-quarters work by hand towards the back half of the training block.

Draftee Hugo Garcia took part a separate morning gym session alongside Wood, Jack Hayes and a handful of others, while Liam Henry, Paddy Dow and Riley Bonner hit RSEA Park for the first time in their new club colours.

Sandringham-listed players Ollie Lowe, Vince Zagari and Darby Hipwell were also on-hand for the first 2024 pre-season session, following on from the Saints’ and Zebras’ shared commitment from earlier this year to further align the two football programs.

A rotating roster of Sandringham players will come through the club for Monday and Friday training blocks prior to Round 1 to assist the Saints’ squad and gain an insight into the happenings of a professional AFL environment.