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St Kilda to make calls on veterans, including Lenny Hayes

Lenny Hayes.

Lenny Hayes. Photo: Getty Images

St Kilda will make decisions on a group of its key veterans, including spiritual leader Lenny Hayes, in the next month.

Determined to maintain the healthy balance between experience and youth needed to be competitive, the Saints will weigh up how many older players it can keep on its list in 2015 as the club moves into the next phase of its rebuild.

The Saints have seven players 30 or older – Lenny Hayes (34), Sam Fisher (32 this year), Nick Riewoldt (32 this year), Leigh Montagna (31 this year), Sean Dempster (30), Clint Jones (30) and Adam Schneider (30) – while Beau Maister, Sam Gilbert, Farren Ray and James Gwilt are all 28 this year. 

Senior coach Alan Richardson, coming up against his old club Port Adelaide for the first time this weekend, revealed on Monday night that he would speak to his senior players "within a month or so" about the clubs plans for next season.

"To make a really informed decision for the club and for the players involved, they need as much information, and we need as much information, and we'll sit down then and have a chat about where they're at and the direction we're taking," Richardson said on Talking Footy.

"The reality is, we're going to be a young group – we already are a very inexperienced group – and those guys play a significant role," he said.

"You see what clubs like GWS do, the impact Gary Ablett has on the Suns, the Giants go and get (Shane) Mumford and (Heath) Shaw and (Josh) Hunt to bolster.

"We're not going to throw out our experience just to give games to young blokes.They need to earn it and our experienced players will play a real role there."

Riewoldt, currently on 597 goals and 269 games, has said he wants to fulfil the final year of his contract by playing on next season, but revealed he would need to pass a medical to do so. Fellow star Montagna is contracted until the end of 2016.

Reiwoldt on Sunday backed Hayes to play on with him next year, although Hayes - like Fisher, Jones, Schneider and Maister - is out of contract at the end of this season.

Hayes is yet to publicly declare his intentions, and while it was assumed at the start of this season that 2014 would be his last, the three-time best and fairest winner continues to perform at a high level and would be on track to reach the 300-game milestone if he played in 2015.

Riewoldt said he thought Hayes, currently on 286 games, would be sitting in the top three vote-getters of the club's best and fairest this year, currently leading the team for disposals, tackles, inside 50s and sitting second for clearances.

Richardson said Hayes had been playing "really good footy" and his influence on the development of youngsters such as Luke Dunstan and Seb Ross had been invaluable.

"Lenny plays a really significant role with those young guys… and his own impact on the game has also been strong," Richardson said.

Riewoldt said he thought Hayes was a "sneaky chance" to go around again "if his body could hold up".

St Kilda's off-field staffing also been in the media spotlight following the high-profile addition of Matt Finnis as its new chief executive.

Speculation regarding the level of financial debt the Saints are facing this season, following their 2013 operating loss of $1,198,587 and statutory loss of $2,614,837, has been a key issue on the agenda.

However Richardson said he had been assured that public estimates of an enormous deficit were not accurate and that any financial problems the club was having had not affected the football department.

"Matt (Finnis) and I catch up semi-regularly and he was reasonably quick to come and tell me that it's certainly not as bleak as it's been portrayed out in the media," Richardson said. 

"What I will say is in terms of where we're at and what we need, and I've been lucky enough to be at some really elite facilities like Carlton and Collingwood, we want for nothing in terms of what's required to make our playing group as good as they can be - to be great athletes, to be able to prepare for long careers," he said.

"It's an outstanding facility we have at Linen House in Seaford, and we have a really good strong group of coaches.

"Yes, we would like a couple more... but it really doesn't affect us."

3 comments so far

  • The Saints are four years away from being competitive.

    Wouldn't they be crazy to get rid of most of these players? Wait till the current 20-22 year olds are in their mid/late 20's in four years. By then most of these players will have moved on anyway, and in the meantime the take a lot of heat from younger and more inexperienced bodies.

    Commenter
    Jez
    Location
    Melb
    Date and time
    June 03, 2014, 11:18AM
    • Except Jones and Schneider are well past their best, Fisher is always injured these days, and Meister isn't up to this level. Bring in a couple of under '30's in the draft maybe, but we have an appalling record with rejects over the last decade- anyone remember Fiora, Acland, Rix, King, Birss, Capuano, McGough, Lovett, Pattison, Begley, Polo etc etc It's a long list of wasted draft opportunities. Better to stick with youth.

      Commenter
      Wal
      Date and time
      June 03, 2014, 12:31PM
  • After watching sams gilbert and fisher busy playing with their phones when they could've been watching the game on friday night ready to critique the back line - I know who I'd be letting go.

    Commenter
    freely
    Date and time
    June 03, 2014, 12:50PM

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