St Kilda's Leigh Montagna. Photo: Paul Jeffers
Leigh Montagna says he would seriously consider becoming captain at St Kilda, but only if incumbent skipper Nick Riewoldt decides he no longer wants the job or the club and players feel it is time for a fresh voice.
It is Montagna's opinion that Riewoldt is still the best man for the role, one he has performed for eight straight seasons, although the club will still go through the formal process of selecting a skipper for 2014 under the new model introduced by Leading Teams.
"We'll do the Leading Teams model where we'll go through the proper process, but I would think clearly Nick would still be the man for the job," Montagna said on Monday, when asked his thoughts on the captaincy situation.
"I can't see why that would change.
"With the Leading Teams model, we'll do it through the formal procedures and pick a leadership group and from there, pick a captain."
Riewoldt, who recently signed a two-year contract extension, has stated he will remain captain for as long as the club wants him to and, should he be chosen again this season, will surpass Danny Frawley as St Kilda's longest-serving skipper.
However should it emerge from the Leading Teams process that the team would benefit from having a new captain, or should Riewoldt have a change of heart, Montagna indicated he did hold aspirations for the top job.
Montagna also signed a two-year contract extension late last season and is viewed as one of the Saints' most consistent performers and, at age 30, is also one of its most experienced players.
"It would be something I'd seriously consider," he said of potentially becoming captain.
"We'll get to that when we do but look, Nick has been a tremendous captain and I'd continue to love playing under Nick."
Three of last season's top four sides - Hawthorn, Fremantle and Sydney - used the Leading Teams model.
After years of drafting to win a premiership under former coach Ross Lyon, a gap exists on the Saints list between veteran players such as Riewoldt, Montagna and Lenny Hayes and a big group of younger players yet to reach that prime leadership age of 25 to 30.
The situation was made even worse in the short-term by the departure of ruckman Ben McEvoy to Hawthorn.
Montagna said he hoped the introduction of Leading Teams this year would help develop new leaders among the younger brigade.
"As we know there is a bit of a gap between a few of the older guys and a few of the younger guys with our leadership, so bridging that gap is something I think we will focus on this year," he said.
"We've just got to find them, we've got to bring that out in them. There are certainly younger guys there that have leadership potential, but giving them the environment where they can show that and bring that out is something we will work on.
"Guys Nick [Reiwoldt] and Lenny [Hayes] are not going to be around forever, so we certainly need to fast track some development from other guys. "
Montagna said new coach Alan Richardson's background as a member of Port Adelaide's coaching staff during their rise to the top eight last season had given the Saints confidence.
"He's fitted in really well. You can tell he's confident in his own skin," Montagna said.
"We just want to improve from last season. In the last couple of years we've been on a downward trend.
"The positive of Richo coming from Port Adelaide is he's been there where it has happened really quickly and that's given us a lot of confidence that it's possible."
Montagna said Richardson had been very direct and honest with his players and his main emphasis was on hard work.
"That's been his motto. He'd rather us wear out than rust out," Montagna said.
"He'd rather have guys pushing themselves to the limit rather than backing off.
"That's something that's been a challenge for some guys."
St Kilda's first pre-season game is against Western Bulldogs in Geelong on February 19.