ST KILDA veteran Lenny Hayes says the Saints' young players reminds him of when he started with the club in 1998 and he is rapt to be playing on and helping them develop in 2014.
Hayes, who has played 276 games, will play on for a 16th season after confirming a one-year contract extension on Sunday.
The champion midfielder said he could sense exciting times ahead for the Saints and he wanted to play his part in launching the club's next successful era.
"I love the hard work, I love being around the place and I can see so many exciting signs in some of these young guys," he said on Sunday night after St Kilda's 46-point win over Gold Coast.
"It just reminds me of when I started. In my second or third year we were in a similar position.
"To be part of that and just give them a chop out and try and help out next year, I'm rapt to be onboard."
Hayes, who played a key role with 22 possessions and six inside 50s against the Suns, said he needed to be sure his body could handle another season before re-signing.
The 33-year-old has played seven of the last eight games, returning against the Suns after missing last week's clash against the Sydney Swans with soreness.
He said the decision was also based on the direction St Kilda's was heading with its list management.
"The club needed to be happy for me to play on, that was always a big part of it," Hayes said.
"I didn't want to be taking anyone's spot or holding back any young guys from developing.
"I also had to feel that I could do the work over pre-season. I think that's what cost me this season with a bit of injury."
Coach Scott Watters said keeping the three-time All Australian at St Kilda was massive for the club's young players.
"I think he's got a lot to offer still, purely from a playing point of view, certainly from a leadership and mentoring point of view," the coach said.
While Hayes will play on, the Saints announced Stephen Milne, Justin Koschitzke and Jason Blake would all retire after next Saturday's clash against Fremantle at Etihad Stadium.
Run-with specialist Clint Jones, however, will play on in 2014 with talks underway to extend his contract for at least one more season.