Hayes considers his future and an AFL flag
Much-loved St Kilda veteran Lenny Hayes says this could be his last AFL season, but he hasn’t given up on a farewell premiership.
Hayes, 32, who has made a strong comeback from a knee reconstruction this season, will play his 250th AFL match in Saturday’s Etihad Stadium clash with Sydney.
While the courageous midfielder said he still loved playing and ideally would continue next year, he was wary of going on too long.
“It’s always a hard one. I suppose when you get to my age, I could be another serious injury away from retirement. I’m not taking anything for granted,” Hayes told reporters on Wednesday.
“At the moment, I am pretty much a week-to-week proposition.
“As long as I can keep stringing games together and the body holds up, my mind’s still really keen and loving it.
“Who knows? I haven’t looked too far ahead. It’s just get through this year. Hopefully we can have some success and then weigh it up.”
A member of losing grand-final sides in 2009 and 2010, Hayes was desperately close to being a premiership hero when he won the Norm Smith Medal in the 2010 drawn grand final against Collingwood.
While the Saints (4-4) are outside the top eight, Hayes believes they can win this year’s flag.
“I probably wouldn’t be playing if I didn’t think we were still a chance to make that final weekend,” he said.
“I don’t tend to reflect back too much, but I still have a lot of faith in this team and where we’re going.
“I think we’ve added a bit this year – we’ve still got that core group of players … it’s a pretty open year.”
He expects the clash with the Swans, fresh from their 101-point win over Melbourne, to be a good test of St Kilda’s credentials.
The battle of second-string ruckmen could be pivotal.
The Swans used Mike Pyke as their main ruckman in his first game of the season against the Demons, in the continued absence of Shane Mumford.
The Saints are without preferred options Ben McEvoy and Rhys Stanley, meaning Justin Koschitzke is likely to do much of the ruckwork.
That could hamper a St Kilda attack which started the year including Koschitzke and Stanley both backing Nick Riewoldt, although Hayes said Koschitzke could fill both roles.
“Kosi might play ruck then head up forward and hopefully kick some goals for us,” he said.© AAP 2013