St Kilda Saints Training Session
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 06: Rowan Marshall of the Saints in action during a St Kilda Saints AFL training session at Moorabbin Oval on January 06, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

The Saints and star tall Rowan Marshall have opened contract discussions ahead of a critical 2022 season.

Marshall is currently unsigned past the end of next year, having inked a three-year deal with the club midway through a breakout 2019 campaign.

St Kilda and Marshall are circling back to the negotiations table next year, with the 26-year-old set to earn a bumper new deal, either with the Saints or elsewhere.

Despite ongoing injury setbacks, Marshall's worth to St Kilda has only grown in recent years, firming as a critical key-position weapon at Moorabbin.

While talks remain "preliminary", Saints list boss James Gallagher has revealed discussions are underway to see Marshall recommit to the club beyond 2022.

“They (contract talks) have been very preliminary at this stage,” Gallagher told SEN.

“Rowan is as invested in our footy club as anyone. He’s really keen to stay but only when the time is right.

“He had a really interrupted year last year, so he’s pretty keen to get back to full training, play some games and then once he feels settled with how he’s going with his body, then we’ll look to do something.

AFL Rd 3 - Collingwood v St Kilda
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 20: Rowan Marshall of the Saints celebrates a goal during the round 3 AFL match between the Collingwood Magpies and the St Kilda Saints at Melbourne Cricket Ground on June 20, 2020 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/AFL Photos/via Getty Images )

“He’s certainly a player we’re really keen to keep and everything we know so far is that he’s really keen to stay.”

The Saints announced on Friday that co-captain Jack Steele has signed a new five-year deal to remain in the red, white and black until the end of the 2027 season.

Gallagher is currently facing a sizeable retention task in 2022, with the likes of Josh Battle, Jack Bytel, Ryan Byrnes, Jarryn Geary, Jack Higgins and Thomas Highmore among those off-contract next year.