St Kilda Coach Alan Richardson has lauded club great Leigh Montagna for not only his ability to consistently perform at the highest level for a long period of time, but for his outstanding capacity to impart knowledge on the next generation.

Fresh from inking a new one-year contract extension that will take Montagna into a 16th season at the Saints, the Saints mentor outlined the importance of having a player like Montagna at the club for as long as possible.

“He’s a terrific player still, even though he’s getting a little bit long in the tooth. He’s a fantastic leader – he sets a great example for the young guys,” Richardson told Melbourne radio station SEN on Friday morning.

“Clearly that’s the journey we’re on, we need our leaders to be really strong with their performance and the way that they challenge and motivate their younger teammates. He’s doing a really good job.”

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Richardson admitted that prior to entering Linen House Centre at the end of 2013 he didn’t realise how valuable a commodity the dual All Australian was from a leadership perspective, before quickly marvelling at Montagna’s leadership skills.

“He’s a person that I admired his footy from afar before joining the footy club, but didn’t really level of understanding of the ability to teach others, to understand the game and be able to impart that knowledge on his teammates,” he said.

“He’s not the biggest guy, but he’s been able to forge a brilliant career. The way he teaches his younger teammates is pretty special, so we’re rapt that he’s on board again.”

Montagna, 32, will make his first appearance of the NAB Challenge series on Sunday when the Saints play their second game of the pre-season tournament against Brisbane in Mackay.

After carving out a distinguished career that has reaped five podium finishes in the Trevor Barker Award, Montagna is likely to spend more time across half-back in 2016, in a similar role he played at times last year with aplomb. And that may start in Round 1 when the ultra-consistent Montagna plays his 250th game in red, white and black.

Friday was a momentous occasion for the Saints with Montagna not the only one to pledge his future to the club. Co-principal partner Dare Iced Coffee has also re-committed to the St Kilda Football Club, inking a three-year extension which will see them remain with the Saints until at least the end of 2019.