It was one passage of play that summed up perfectly that St Kilda’s future was in good hands.

A ground-ball win off half-back from Mitch Owens was fed out to a rampaging Marcus Windhager on the burst, whose fend-off opened the door for a streaming Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera to stream into attack. It was the combination that is sure to delight for seasons to come, and excitingly, is only in its infancy.

Between them, the trio post a combined 114 games, however the hunger to succeed is well beyond their years. It’s an undeniable factor in the Saints’ improvement over the past 12 months, according to two-time Best & Fairest Jack Sinclair.

“They’re really hungry to have an impact now, they don’t want to wait a few years to get their bodies up to the level, things like that,” Sinclair said to Channel 7 post-game.


“They barely have a day off, in the off-season they’re always at the club. (We’re like) ‘just go on a holiday boys, you’ll cook yourselves!’.

“But they’re a really driven group, probably led by Damian Caroll and Lenny Hayes, some really good role models for them. 

They’ve had an enormous impact last year and they’re a big reason why we’ve improved so much.

- Jack Sinclair

Windhager registered a brilliant outing in Spud’s Game, donning the revered No. 2 on his back made famous by the late Danny Frawley.

His performance was one that mirrored the Saints champion and fearless skipper: tenacious, uncompromising and full of intensity.

Windhager had a game-high six centre clearances in a bullish midfield display, rounding out his ferocious evening with 24 disposals (16 contested), seven score involvements and six crunching tackles. 


“I love Spud’s story and what he stood for as a player and as a captain. I was just chomping at the bit to go again,” Windhager told post-game.

“Spud’s Game, it’s such an important cause to not only honour his legacy but raise awareness for mental health.

“I wasn’t happy with last week and really wanted to get in, crack in and just bring the contest.”

Windhager found himself on Collingwood young gun and jet of the competition Nick Daicos at stages throughout the night, helping quell his impact to 22 disposals.

Although steadily building a name for himself through his tagging scalps - which has claimed the likes of Brownlow medallists Lachie Neale and Patrick Cripps - it was never planned for the emerging to take to the Magpies’ No. 35 on Thursday.

“It’s funny, there was no set role and I ended up just lining up on him a few times at stoppages,” Windhager said.

“He’s such a damaging player, you’ve seen what he’s done for the last two-and-a-bit years, but it was a good contest.”

Windhager played far from a lone hand at the MCG, with an even spread of contributors across the board executing their roles to see the 15-point triumph through.

“Credit to the boys, we stuck to our process and our system and we knew if we got that right we’d come out on top,” Windhager said.

“(Ross Lyon) was over the moon, but he just reminded us that we can’t breathe out. So early in the season, that’s the way we want to play but we’re so keen to keep on improving and go against Essendon.”

“I love this group and I’m really keen to go again.”