St Kilda look to Steven in place of Hayes - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

St Kilda look to Steven in place of Hayes

Greg Buckle 15/07/2011 03:59:37 PM Comments (0)

It's a big responsibility to put on the shoulders of a 21-year-old from Lorne, but St Kilda need a new Lenny Hayes.

At least for 2011 anyway.

And Jack Steven, a 21-game player, is starting to fit the bill according to team-mate Farren Ray.

Hayes, St Kilda's 2010 club champion and Norm Smith Medallist, broke down in round two with a season-ending knee injury.

The midfielder averaged 28 disposals last year. Steven is not quite matching that, with 19.5 touches per game in 12 matches in 2011.

But the 180cm former small forward has shown enough to suggest he's capable of slotting into a long-term role as part of St Kilda's midfield mix.

Steven was named in the centre for Saturday night's clash with West Coast at Etihad Stadium.

"Internally Jack has been highly rated at the club, we knew what Jack could do," Ray told AAP.

"They were trying to play him as a small forward there for a while. Although he can play that position, Jackie has right now really cemented a spot in the midfield and he's running as well as any one of us.

"He's getting clearances and playing part of the role that Lenny Hayes used to play. No one can take Lenny Hayes' role.

"But if we can pick up the slack -- Brett Peake is playing better and blokes like Nick Dal Santo -- if we all come together, it forms a pretty good midfield."

Ray says Steven's enthusiasm around the packs has helped the Saints rebuild after the devastating loss of Hayes, their star playmaker.

"Jack Steven has been great this year," Ray said.

"He's not trying to shoulder the whole team of course.

"Lenny is such a really good clearance winner and ball winner inside."

The Saints have risen to 11th spot with five wins in their past seven games.

"Sometimes we've been really good on the inside and we've got hurt on the outside," he said.

"I think we've got a good balance. We're getting our hard edge back.

"But also we're getting our spread and our run and our uncontested ball a bit better."

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