Jack Steele’s first month of football for 2024 is more than stacking up on the numbers front.

The skipper is leading the way in just about every key metric for an inside midfielder after the Saints’ opening month of 2024, topping the club’s count for total disposals (113), contested possessions (50), clearances (25) and tackles (34), the latter of which he ranks second in the league behind Sydney’s James Rowbottom.

It’s solid reading on paper that holds up as some of his best within an opening month of a season. Steele has registered the most tackles of his career and clearances in that time period, while his disposal numbers are level to the number he accrued in his second All-Australian and Best & Fairest year in 2021.


The influence of those figures, although immeasurable, has been the most prevalent however. Without Steele’s first half on Sunday against the Tigers, the margin would have been far greater. Without his stirring second half, the Saints wouldn’t have been able to pull off their come-from-behind win from the clouds.

And it’s those intangibles - ferocity, communication and discipline - which are standing out most in his teammates’ eyes; third-year Saint Mitch Owens witnessing it first-hand in the opening stages of 2024.

“First of all, I feel like he’s a strong leader by his actions. Seeing him lay those tough tackles and he’s always got his body over the ball, they’re the kind of things that inspire you when you see it and things you love to see from your leader,” Owens told saints.com.au.

“His communication and his high standards that he has on us as teammates and as a team has been really good. He’s always talking, communicating and demanding high standards. If he sees what he doesn’t like, then he definitely lets you know about it. 

When you see him cracking in and going for hard-balls and laying the big tackles, it definitely inspires me to do that as well. I’m sure it inspires younger boys like Darcy Wilson and the whole team to that too.

- Mitch Owens on Jack Steele

Although a more quiet operator off the field, Steele - like Owens - fires to life on game day and transforms into a fierce combatant who can drag his side back into the contest.

“It definitely changes a lot, he can get fired up out there,” Owens said.

“It was so important (on Sunday) especially when we were under the pump in the first half. He led the way with his actions but also the way he was talking to us and making sure we stayed positive. 

“That second half of his was unreal again and showed the way to do it, really.”

Battling through injury last year and adjusting to the captaincy with Ross Lyon as coach had the skipper finding his feet throughout last year, but Steele hit the ground running with a powerful elimination final performance to close out the year in fine form.

That promising vein has carried on to this season and hasn’t showed any signs of slowing as yet; Lyon praising the skipper's added element of further leaning in to his younger teammates as a particular standout.

“He’s really grown in his leadership and he’s starting to shine. We’ve formed a strong relationship,” Lyon said post-game.

“Steele is understanding how he’s giving more and more to these young players. And maybe we didn’t have a lot of young players before, but now we have and he’s diving in and that’s really pleasing. We love him.

“There’s a lot that goes with it. You’ve got to stand up and perform, but you want to create an environment where you allow everyone to be themselves and feel safe and safe to fail. But we demand excellence in learning and it’s about trying to strike that balance.”