FIRST-YEAR Brisbane Lions player Jarrod Berry has quickly forged a path for himself.
After making his debut in round three, the former Horsham Saints junior has continued to impress among a young Lions team.
He has routinely drawn praise from both his coaches and teammates since being selected by the club with pick 17 in the 2016 national draft.
“It’s good to get that positive feedback, which I think is the result of coming in as a first-year player and working hard,” Berry said.
“Winning the respect of your teammates is massive and it is something that is valued really highly.”
Berry’s role has mainly seen him play through the midfield and coach Chris Fagan has tasked the young player with shutting down some of best opposition stars.
He ran with tough Port Adelaide player Brad Ebert in round six and went head-to-head with Joel Selwood in round 16.
He kept the Geelong captain to just 23 disposals as well as winning 18 of his own.
“That’s all part of my development,” Berry said. “I’ve grown up idolising Joel and I learn a lot from playing against the best players.
“It’s not a role I get every week but I enjoy the challenge.”
Being part of a developing group at the Lions has made the transition easier for Berry.
“(Fagan) treats everyone the same – whether you are a seasoned player or in your first year,” he said.
“He is massive on relationships forming the basis of any good culture and team.”
Two things surprised Berry more than anything else about playing at the AFL level: How ruthless players were on the field and the constant need to recover.
“If you stuff up, you know about it pretty quickly,” he said.
“You have to be at your best and that extends to the training track as well. You’re good mates with everyone you play with, but you are also competing with them for spots in the team.”
Even from 1500km away Berry said he still kept an eye on the Horsham Saints.
“I’m still a member of the club’s Facebook page and it looks like Luke (Fisher) is doing some good things,” he said. “They are a really young group with plenty of talented players, quite a few Rebels players in there as well.”
One of those Rebels is his younger brother Thomas.
Berry said it was awesome to see his brother do well in his first season in the TAC Cup.
“Hopefully he keeps working hard and he gets an opportunity at the next level,” he said.
“I’ve already been in the ears of the recruiters so they know he is coming through the ranks. It would be great to see him come up here in the future because he is not just my brother but one of my best mates.”