Steele ready for extra burden of captaincy | Ralph Lauren

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St Kilda sensation Jack Steele has backed himself to successfully juggle the weight of expectation with the burden of captaincy as he attempts to back up a stellar 2020 AFL season.

The Saints officially turned to AFL co-captaincy for the first time in 14 years by elevating Steele to the top job alongside incumbent Jarryn Geary, who will miss the opening rounds of his fifth season as skipper due to a broken leg.

Steele, 25, takes on the role after a standout 2020 season, where he was named All-Australian and won the Saints best and fairest in the club’s return to finals football.

“I haven’t really thought about that (the expectation) too much just yet but I’m pretty confident about it all – just with ‘Gears’ next to me,” Steele said.

“I know he won’t be around for the first part of the season, but he will sort of guide me through that as it comes I think and the rest of the playing group and the leadership group and leadership team we have.

“So I’m sure it’ll be a challenge but I’m looking forward to it.”

The Saints last had multiple captains when Lenny Hayes, Nick Riewoldt and Luke Ball shared the role in 2007.

The captaincy is Steele’s first leadership role since joining the Saints from GWS at the end of 2016 and he admitted Geary being by his side would “take a little bit of pressure” off him.

Geary said a move to co-captains would have been on the cards even if he hadn’t been injured and was keen for St Kilda to kick on from last year’s semi-final appearance.

“I’m very excited – I’m probably a bit envious of Jack that he’s starting this journey as captain of the footy club now when the expectation on us internally and externally is that we keep progressing and keep improving on what we did last year,” he said.

“When I took over we were probably in more of a holding development pattern.

“So I’m really excited to be a part of the group still and hopefully whilst I’m still here we can have some success.”

The veteran was confident of still making a big contribution to St Kilda’s campaign despite suffering a fractured fibula on January 29 but expects to miss “the first few rounds” of the season.

Dougal Howard and Tim Membrey have been named vice-captains while Seb Ross, Jack Billings and Callum Wilkie complete the leadership group.

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