Saints step up after AFL stars retire

St Kilda's players, like nature, hate a vacuum.

Mav Weller says Saints players are stepping up after Nick Riewoldt and Leigh Montagna's retirements.

Mav Weller says Saints players are stepping up after Nick Riewoldt and Leigh Montagna's retirements.

Maverick Weller says the departures of Saints legends Nick Riewoldt and Leigh Montagna mean AFL teammates are finding their voices around the club.

Riewoldt and Montagna retired at the end of last season, taking 623 games of experience from the team.

One of the fascinations about St Kilda this year is how they will develop without the two stars.

"It's left a bit of a void, but it's been really good because it's given blokes opportunity to have their opinions," Weller said.

"Rooey and Joey, out of all the right reasons, were such a dominant presence around the club, because their opinions were probably the best opinions.

"It's been interesting, the different personalities stepping up now and having a say.

"It's been pretty refreshing for the group."

Weller said Luke Dunstan and leaders such as Seb Ross and Dylan Roberton were having more of a say.

He added even youngster Ben Long was starting to come out of his shell.

Weller was one of three players to drop out of their player leadership group, which he said would make it more efficient.

"We found last year, grabbing eight or nine weeks and dragging them all into one room, getting guys throughout the day is pretty hard," he said.

Weller has shed some weight and is at full fitness after last year's frustrations.

He played 18 games, but was below his best and struggled with a right ankle injury.

"It was frustrating and it definitely played on my mind - I probably didn't deal with it the best each week," he said.

"Ideally, I probably should have had some time off, but they're things I can't control."

Weller is in a solid Saints squad for Friday night's AFLX tournament at Etihad Stadium.

"I don't know what to make of it - I'm certainly excited and the boys are pretty keen to get out there," he said.

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