ST KILDA half-back Jack Newnes headlines a group of young Saints showing signs they could one day captain the club, according to veteran midfielder Lenny Hayes.
Skipper Nick Riewoldt has played career best football at times this season and Hayes backed the 30-year-old to lead the club for as long as he wanted.
However, he said there would be options when Riewoldt chose to hand over the reins, with Jarryn Geary and Ben McEvoy also touted as future leaders.
"Without putting too much pressure on a guy like Jack Newnes, I see a lot of leadership qualities in him," Hayes told AFL.com.au.
"Jarryn Geary has become a really important player for us and a good leader over the last couple of years. Ben McEvoy's in there as well.
"Even a guy like Leigh Montagna, if 'Roo' didn't want to do it next year, then I'm sure he could take over for a couple of years until one of those younger guys is ready."
Hayes, who captained the Saints in 2004 and was co-captain in 2007, said Newnes and Geary were both very professional, and their pathways into the AFL made them potential leaders.
Newnes has played 20 games since he was recruited with pick No.37 in the 2011 draft, while Geary, who started his career as a rookie in 2007, has played 87 games.
"It's probably taken Geary a little bit longer to make his mark, but that holds him in really good stead because he's seen both sides of it," Hayes said.
"He wasn't a high draft pick coming in and he's had to work really hard.
"He's turned himself into a very good player. He's very selfless, he can play a number of roles and guys relate well to him.
"Newnes is in a similar boat. He's come in and played some games early, he seems a real leader of the young group and from the first day you could just see he was focused and believed in himself."
Riewoldt who first captained the Saints in 2005 and was co-captain alongside Hayes and Luke Ball in 2007, was appointed outright skipper in 2008.
Hayes said the future of the captaincy is something Riewoldt and coach Scott Watters would discuss, but there was no rush for the champion forward to hand over the leadership.
"What he's been able to do over a long period of time, if he's still keen I think he can go for as long as he wants," Hayes said.
"He's been a great skipper for the club, and unless there's someone jumping up wanting to take the reins I'd be more than comfortable to see 'Rooey' do it for as long as he wanted."
Nathan Schmook is a reporter for AFL Media. Follow him on Twitter @AFL_Nathan