Under-fire St Kilda captain Jack Steele has gained the support of his teammates amid a form slump, with the Saints' leader backed to refind his best brand of football on the road toward September.

Steele's effort and output in recent weeks have come into question, while statistically, the defensive-minded midfielder has seen drops in key areas compared to recent seasons.

The 27-year-old is averaging under 23 disposals this season after recording means of 29 disposals and 27 disposals across the 2021 and 2022 seasons. Steele's tackling, clearance, and contested possessions have also taken a hit under Ross Lyon's watch, with the skipper's centre bounce attendance rate dropping by 10% from last year, down from 81%.

Last Saturday's loss to Richmond added to a frustrating patch for the former Giant, who also collected just 14 disposals in his side's Round 11 loss to Hawthorn - marking just the second time in 66 matches Steele has recorded less than 15 possessions.

Midfield partner Brad Crouch has come in to bat for his teammate and leader, stating Steele's values to the team go beyond his on-field exploits and that his best football is right around the corner.

"I'm still happy with the way Jack's been playing throughout the season," Crouch told reporters on Tuesday.

"He's been part of some really good wins and had some really strong games for us. I think like anyone we've had some inconsistent games.

"He's bringing internally what we want him to bring; his effort, his intent, his pressure on the ball.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 05: (L-R) Jack Steele, Brad Crouch and Jack Hayes of the Saints celebrate during the 2022 AFL Community Series match between the Essendon Bombers and the St Kilda Saints at Marvel Stadium on March 5, 2022 In Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

"We're playing a bit of a different style to what we have in past years so maybe his numbers aren't high enough, but we're really happy with Jack and there's been some games lately where he hasn't been at his best.

"I have no doubt he'll turn it around and be at his best really soon. He's got some really strong form coming, he's training well, preparing well.

"He's a really good player. We need him."

While the Saints are unlikely to be in the market for a new All-Australian onballer, Crouch was questioned on where his brother Matt's future lies.

The Crows midfielder has played one game in 2023, coming on as the tactical sub against Geelong in Round 8. Crouch was dropped on multiple occasions last year and commonly featured in the SANFL for Adelaide's reserves, with the 2017 Malcolm Blight Medal winner unable to rekindle his best form too.

Off-contract in 2023, Matt Crouch faces an uncertain future, while his brother is equally unsure of what the future holds for old teammate.

"I speak to him a fair bit but not often about football," Crouch said of his younger brother. "He's not always up for a chat about that, so I'm not sure.

"He's out of contract at the end of the year and I'm not sure what's going to happen."

When quizzed on whether he might look to tempt his brother away from West Lakes, Crouch laughed: "I will say that at some stage and see how it goes, but I think he's pretty settled in Adelaide."

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The Saints will turn their attention to Friday's clash against premiership contenders Brisbane at Marvel Stadium for Spud's Game, with the Moorabbin club looking to snap a run of games that have seen them record alternating win-loss results across their last 10 showings.

Their latest defeat came against the Tigers under tough conditions at the MCG, with Crouch hopeful the club can not only return to winnings ways this week, but follow up with successive victories for the first time since Rounds 3 & 4.

"It was frustrating for us, we felt like a lot of the game we did a lot of good stuff and we thought our effort and intent was there," Crouch said of his side's Round 14 defeat.

"They probably got us with a little bit of smarts and early in the first quarter we got a bit ahead of ourselves when we started well. I think we can take away (from the loss) that we brought effort and intent.

"The last half was pretty tough with the conditions, but we've lost no confidence. We've just got to build ourselves up now, we've got a massive game this week. We know how dangerous the Lions are.

"We find that we're responding well to when we lose and then we're not responding well to when we win.

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"(We're in) the medium where we can't get ahead of ourselves or wait to come back and fight back the next week. We understand it's a long season and we want to start to put together a good path of footy.

"Most teams want to be playing well in the second part of the year, and that's what we wanna do as well."

Spud's Game, which will be Crouch's 150th career match, will commence at 7:50pm at Docklands on Friday evening.