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Steele sharpens attacking focus

Jack Steele is hoping to lose his tag and play a pure midfield role in Season 2019. Linton St | Episode 5Jack Steele and Jack Lonie take us behind the scenes for a closer look at the Saints' pre-season.
Steeley hasn’t been tagging for the pre-season, so he's learning different roles.
Brendon Lade, Midfield Coach

After an impressive first two seasons in red, white and black, emerging star Jack Steele is looking to take his game to another level in 2019.

There are big plans for the No. 9, with new midfield coach Brendon Lade hoping to develop the young gun into a genuine two-way midfielder, rather than restricting him to be a “one-trick pony”.

Steele’s impact as a tagger was evident in 2018, as he took scalp after scalp playing on some of the best footballers in the country – including David Swallow, Ollie Wines and Tom Mitchell – to storm home in third place for the Trevor Barker Award.

BEHIND THE SCENES: Linton St | Jack Steele

His mantra was to consistently nullify the opposition’s best player, and the numbers told the story.

The young Saint bettered himself in nearly every statistic compared to Season 2017, tellingly averaging 6.7 tackles per game along with 23.5 disposals at 79% efficiency.

Steele goes toe-to-toe with Carlton star Patrick Cripps in Round 17, 2018

Steele’s humility is refreshing for a player of his calibre, and it’s a trait that allows him to focus intensely on his own game.

And with Lade’s offensively-minded strategy front of mind for the ex-Giant, improving his athleticism was top of the list.

“This pre-season’s a bit different to last, I’ve really tried to work on my tank and drop a few kilos, just so it’s easier to get around the ground and move in between contests,” Steele told saints.com.au.

I’ve been able to do that and I’m running well, so all I’ve got to do now is transition that into the season when it comes around.”

“Running well” is a typical understatement for Steele, who knocked a substantial chunk off his 3km time trial and earned himself a personal-best in the process.

“He’s improved his running a lot,” Lade confirmed.

“He hasn’t been tagging for the pre-season, so he’s learning different roles which is a good thing for him, to not just be a one-trick pony.”

READ: Steele claims another

Steele’s influence is not restricted to the field either, with his vocal presence in the locker room growing steadily.

“Jack’s certainly developing in that regard – he’s still got a bit of a way to go – but he’s taking some big steps forward and starting to demand a bit more from his teammates,” Lade said.

“He’s actually been very vocal in line meetings, which is a plus for us, and he’s starting to talk a little bit more in the theatre meetings when we have everyone in there.”

With 58 senior games now under his belt, Steele is one of a number of mid-tier Saints who’ll be desperate to step up and lead a charge up the ladder in 2019.