Assistant coach Robert Harvey says the time is ripe for Rowan Marshall to take on the mantle of a leader as he enters the “prime years” of his career.

The game-changing ruckman was officially voted into the club’s leadership group by his peers yesterday, forming part of the five-strong cohort alongside captain Jack Steele, vice-captain Callum Wilkie and two-time Best & Fairests Jack Sinclair and Seb Ross.


“I think it’s just great recognition for his growth, both on the field and off - probably more off the field,” Harvey said at this morning’s press conference.

“We’ve seen how he goes about it on the field for a long time now. He’s got great respect with the courage he shows on the field but I think players are now recognising… he’s in the prime.

“He wants to go somewhere and he’s demanding more of his teammates, and that’s a good thing. I think it’s the right timing, we’re rapt, he’s rapt and he’s ready to take that step.”

Marshall’s inclusion sees him replace long-serving leader Tim Membrey for the upcoming season, with the latter centring his attention on a complete on-field return.

Membrey, who served in the leadership for five seasons (two of which were served as co-vice-captain), has pieced together a promising pre-season to-date as he looks to reunite with key forward Max King as the focal point of the Saints’ attack.

“His pre-season has been really, really strong and he’s ready to go. He has barely missed a session which from last year was where he was probably lacking (after knee surgery),” Harvey said.

“Tim is in great shape, we’re rapt and he’s just focussing on getting his body right mainly.

He’s a leader in his own right. He’s a great leader around our place, our players love him and he’ll continue to lead, still with that focus of getting himself right.

- Robert Harvey

The Saints are fielding a relatively clean bill of health - a clear contrast to this time last season - heading into Friday’s match simulation against Essendon at RSEA Park, with Ben Paton (pectoral) the only long-term setback on the injury list.

Reigning Best & Fairest Jack Sinclair is on track to feature in Round 1 however will miss the upcoming practice matches with a calf complaint, while Dan Butler (ankle) and Paddy Dow (knee) are “more in doubt” for the season opener, despite progressing well in their respective recoveries.

The trio’s absence is the perfect opportunity for new recruit Liam Henry to further flex his muscle and “add some spice” to the Saints’ mix, with the midfielder/forward starring in last week’s match simulation after a move on-ball.

“He’s a player who since he’s come in hasn’t missed a beat. We’re excited to have him obviously,” Harvey said.

“He’s got great speed and he livens the place up with his general personality for a start, but we see him on the track and the speed that he has and we’re excited about that.

“He’s been nothing but a breath of fresh air around the place and we can’t wait to see him in Saints colours in Round 1, and that’s on track (for him) so far.”

Harvey says the Saints will field a near full-strength side for this week’s contest against the Bombers, with an eye for an improvement at the top of the bill as the season proper draws closer.

“We need to start to ramp it up from here. While we don’t want to lose any players, I think we start to progressively get our competitive urges back,” Harvey said.

“We’ve just got to work on our game, basically. We’ve got to get better in some certain areas and we’ll get some feedback on that this weekend against Essendon and we’ll take it from there, but the aim this year is just to get better. It’s as simple as that.

“With two games to get yourself set for Round 1, there’s not a lot of time. We’ve done all our work and we’ll pick a pretty strong team for Friday to see where we’re at and get some feedback on our game, but there’s nothing specific (we’re aiming for), just to get better.”