St Kilda skipper Jack Steele has become almost synonymous with the red, white and black in recent years, but he revealed on a recent podcast that he was "gutted" upon leaving GWS after two seasons and heading south to join the Saints.
Speaking on Dyl and Friends, the inspirational captain discussed his time at the Giants, the club where he debuted and played 17 games, and his move to the Saints at the end of 2016.
The now 26-year-old was traded to the Saints in exchange for a future second round draft pick after failing to lock down a spot in the senior side. With a midfield filled with the likes of Dylan Shiel, Stephen Coniglio, Adam Treloar and Josh Kelly, Steele found it hard to ply his trade in the middle with limited game time.
“I was gutted, I went into Leon’s office mid-week when things were coming to a close where I needed to make my decision and I remember just crying in front of Leon saying, ‘mate, I want to be here,” Steele said.
“I knew there were others that were planning on leaving when their current deal was done, they were already talking about getting back to Melbourne and I just never understood why they wouldn’t want to sign someone that wants to be there.
Lovedddd sitting down with the new standalone @stkildafc skipper, Jack Steele. The move from GWS - St Kilda, belief from Ratten and how visualisation changed his game. Check it out fam!!! https://t.co/v69eiByFlt pic.twitter.com/7lOSCJLqtJ
— Dylan Buckley (@dylan_buckley) February 20, 2022
“I just never really wrapped my head around why they wouldn’t want to keep someone that wants to be there.”
Upon his move to the Saints, Steele instantly made an impact, playing 20 games in his first year at the club. By 2020, he had made the transformation into a bonafide star of the competition, earning his first club best and fairest, an All-Australian selection and an equal-third-placed finish on Brownlow Medal night.
Awarded the joint captaincy with Jarryn Geary in 2021, Steele continued his stellar form, cementing his role as the Saints' most important player, both on and off the field.
“In hindsight, it was the best decision I’ve ever made,” Steele said.
“That’s what I felt I needed all along, just a crack at the level, and if I did play one or two games, to have just a bit of faith in me to get going a bit.
Jack Steele is the definition of leading from the front ⭐️
Watch some of the Trevor Barker medallist's best moments from the 2021 season. pic.twitter.com/6JQ6i9BklV
— AFL (@AFL) November 20, 2021
“That’s the one thing I struggled with the whole time (at the Giants), you couldn’t get a rhythm, you couldn’t find form so that was one benefit.
“I was never sour towards anyone at the Giants. At the end of the day, it’s a business, you’ve got to think that they’re trying to win games of football and if they sign someone else in front of me, they're doing what they can.
“Brett Ratten was the one that gave me a great opportunity at the Saints, he said to me, ‘mate, I think you’re a great player and I’m going to let you off the leash and see how you go’.
“That belief in me allowed me to go out and play footy. The belief that I never really had in myself came out.”
Steele is set to captain the Saints solo in 2022 as he looks to have yet another career-best season in the red, black and white. The skipper is set to face his old side in Round 6, but first must navigate an opening month full of challenges in what many consider a do or die season for the Saints.