An impression of Leigh Montagna emerges from speaking with his young teammates - of a man pushing and dragging, advising and encouraging them towards greater things as his own time in the game nears its end.

"Joey" will celebrate his 250th game on Sunday, when St Kilda play Port Adelaide in South Australia, and he said during the week that he had not given up hope of winning a premiership.

Midfielder Jack Newnes, 23, said Montagna and captain Nick Riewoldt often talked about that happy time at the Saints, when they reached the 2009 and 2010 grand finals - although they did lose both, the former to Geelong, the latter to Collingwood in a replay, after drawing the first time around.

Montagna tells the club's younger men about how that period seemed to come about suddenly and how quickly fortunes can change in football.

He tells them how great it feels to still be in contention at the pointy end of the season.

"He's tried to fast track the young guys so he can hopefully play finals again," another teammate, Jack Billings said.

Newnes said the Saints' recent struggles had a different hue for those who could remember better days.

"It would be tougher for the older guys because they had that successful period," he said.

"They want to play finals footy one or more times before their careers end."

It has been a career with more ups and downs than most for the one-time No.37 draft pick.

Off the field, for some, his name will forever be linked to the Stephen Milne case, having appeared in the witness box in his teammate's defence. Milne pleaded guilty to one count of indecent assault and was fined, and other charges against Milne were eventually withdrawn.

On the field, the Saints came painfully close to winning two premierships, but then suffered a dramatic slip down the ladder to take the wooden spoon in 2014.

They showed some improvement in 2015, finishing with six wins, and Montagna has been there all along.

Showing no real signs of slowing down, he signed a one-year contract extension with the Saints this month, which will keep him at the club until the end of 2017 and all but guarantee he finishes his career a one-club man.

Newnes said Montagna was the type of player who spent a lot of time around the club and would chat to anyone.

He had a witty, occasionally harsh, sense of humour, but was loved by coaches and fellow players alike for his willingness to help out.

Montagna said during the week he hoped to hang on at the Saints long enough to win a premiership, as Shane Crawford was able to do in his final year at Hawthorn.

"I have it in the back of my mind that hopefully these young guys, if they continue to improve, they might be able to carry Nick [Riewoldt] and I to a flag," he said.

But far from being carried, Billings said Montagna, with his famous work ethic, had in recent years been forced to bare too great a load for the Saints.

The older man's dedication and consistency in training was something to aspire to, he said.

"I want to get to a point where he doesn't have to get 30 touches each week and run up and down the ground and be St Kilda's best player," he said.

Billings said he noticed when playing against Hawthorn how much the players spoke to each other on field - Montagna was like that too.

Newnes describes him as a very "vocal guy" and highly articulate. "He's helped me a lot on the ground, especially early on," he said.

Billings said he and Montagna saw the quite similarly and the veteran had helped him a lot, particularly with his defensive work.

There is a speech Montagna gives all debutants, both Jacks said, about being in the moment. He told them when they ran out onto the ground they should read the banner and take a few deep breathes. Newnes said it helped.


This article was written by Larissa Nicholson from The Age and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.