THE 17-MONTH wait to see Jake Carlisle play for St Kilda will end on Saturday.
The defender is set to play against Melbourne at Etihad Stadium in a clash between two teams tipped to be among the big improvers this season.
Wingman Jack Newnes is one who can't wait to see Carlilse slot into the Saints' backline.
"He makes a huge difference down back. He's got great hands on him and uses the ball really well," Newnes said at Seaford on Monday.
"We've seen a bit (of him) throughout the JLT Series. It's just really exciting to have him down there and I think he'll just keep getting better as well.
"He's already played some great footy but I think as the year progresses, because he hasn't been playing the last year, he'll just keep getting better."
Carlisle missed all of 2016 while serving a doping ban.
Newnes predicted fellow recruit Nathan Brown would be used on the monster key forwards, such as Melbourne's Jesse Hogan, while Carlisle would take more of an intercepting role.
“Nathan Brown is a strong defender and Jake will be down there trying to pick off a few other kicks," Newnes said.
"It's good for our backline and there's healthy competition for spots."
Injured veteran Leigh Montagna was on the training track on Monday but was restricted to handball drills as he recovers from a right calf strain, with three-time best and fairest Jack Steven joining him.
Not all players were out on the field in the recovery session.
Montagna was initially expected to play round one, but now the Saints are hoping he will be right for a VFL practice match on Sunday afternoon before possibly making the trip to Perth to face West Coast on Saturday week.
St Kilda has won 14 straight matches against Melbourne, the second-longest current streak any team has against any other side. North Melbourne's 15 consecutive wins versus the Demons tops that list.
"We've got lucky a couple of times. We have had a couple of good wins as well so hopefully we can keep that going," Newnes said.
St Kilda had a two-point result midway through 2015, when a Leigh Montagna goal with 19 seconds remaining helped the Saints snatch the win.
However, the closest margin other than that game has been 17 points.
There have been concerns about the state of the turf at Etihad Stadium after international music stars Justin Bieber and Adele held a combined three concerts at the ground within 10 days, the latest of which was on Sunday.
Newnes, who said he has been a long-time Bieber fan, said the issue hadn't been discussed at the Saints.
"They did have Justin Bieber and Adele there so hopefully they've looked after it. We'll only know on Saturday I guess (but) it hasn't been spoken about," Newnes said.