It might not have been St Kilda’s night after going down to the Magpies 102-85 at the Marvel Stadium, but there was a big bright spot in the form of off-season recruit Jack Hayes.
Hayes, who joined the Saints as a mature-aged recruit just a matter of weeks ago, booted three goals in a performance that shocked that AFL world.
Prior to joining the Saints, the 26-year-old debutant was recently preparing another stint in the SANFL, while continuing his career as a concreter.
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Tonight, Hayes was one of St Kilda’s best on ground after dominating the third quarter with two goals, four intercept possessions and four score involvements as the Saints mounted a fightback just when it looked like the Magpies would run riot.
Hayes finished the match with 18 disposals and three goals.
Richmond legend Matthew Richardson said in commentary for Channel Seven that St Kilda has “got a new cult figure”, while former Magpies coach Nathan Buckley lauded the confidence of Hayes in just his first game.
“He definitely stood up,” Buckley told Fox Footy.
“I loved his confidence to go back and you can just sense some guys with their attitude to the contest and to seize the moment, and he was always going to kick (his second goal).
“His bang for buck was brilliant. To have that sort of impact in your first game, your first exposure at the level … in the third quarter, he made it his.”
Former Saints captain Nick Riewoldt added: “When the Saints charged, it was on the back of this guy and what he was able to deliver … few comparisons with Lenny Hayes, but don’t go too early on it.”
Social media was also quick to heap praise on Hayes, with premiership-winning Eagles defender Will Schofield among many to flock to Twitter.
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