St Kilda players in awe of Jack Steele playing with broken collarbone

St Kilda defender Callum Wilkie will step in as captain this week trying to fill the “remarkable” shoes of Jack Steele, who set a new example for his teammates by playing out last Saturday‘s win with a broken collarbone.

Steele underwent surgery and is set to spend at least a month on the sidelines having played through the pain in the final quarter as the Saints defeated the Western Bulldogs to maintain their undefeated start to the season.

“Steeley’s character to play on after breaking his collarbone, his pain tolerance to get back on the field and give his all for the team is nothing short of remarkable. I don’t know if I could have done that,” Wilkie said on Monday as the Saints prepare for the celebration of the club’s 150th anniversary against Essendon.

“He does it year on year, he is incredible. It shows to the young players that you have to fight right to the end. He said after the game he wasn’t feeling too bad, then he showed me the X-ray and it was shattered. I don’t know if he feels any pain, but he inspires everyone with the way he puts his body on the line.”

Wilkie has been something of an ironman himself and hasn’t missed a game since making his debut in the opening round of 2019.

That’s 87 consecutive appearances that will culminate in him leading St Kilda against the Bombers with yet another undermanned line-up.

Under new coach Ross Lyons, the Saints took down first Fremantle and then the Bulldogs despite missing a swag of star players, including key forwards Max King and Tim Membrey.

Neither will play against the Bombers, but Membrey said it was less about who wasn’t playing and more about getting the best out of who was under Lyon.

“When Ross got here, he set the standards high, real clear game plan and the boys have bought in. It wasn’t about who’s on the field – we’ve had injuries right from the start – it’s about next man and system,” Wilkie said.