AN EXTRA season under his belt, boosted self-confidence and coming together as a tighter midfield group have been key for Seb Ross as he has taken a step up for St Kilda this season.
The 24-year-old was given a vote confidence by his teammates prior to the season when he was elevated to a vice-captains role.
He has risen to the occasion after being given the extra responsibility to average more than 30 possessions a game through the first 16 rounds.
“At the end of last season I was around the 60-game mark and was starting to feel more comfortable at senior level,” Ross said. “A leadership role is not something I’d ever really thought about but it’s a great vote of confidence from the guys I’m playing with each week. I take great pride in that.”
Ross said nothing about his approach to the game had changed this season.
“I think as a group we have been playing better this season and that always helps you play better as an individual,” he said.
“Our improvement really showed through in the first half against Richmond in round 16. Everyone talks about how well we played offensively but that was built on how well we were set up defensively.”
In a tight race the Saints currently sit seventh on the ladder, if the the side finishes in the top-eight it will be Ross’ first chance to play in finals since being selected by the club in the 2011 national draft.
“It’s a really tight season though,” he said.
“We are only a couple of wins ahead of the team in 13th. All we can do is worry about our performances and try to make sure we will not need to rely on other results.”
Ross’ career started as in the minis at the Horsham Demons. He remembered his time at the club fondly.
“It was just with a bunch of a friends from school and we all went up through the 14 and 17s together,” he said.
“It’s where my love of footy started because it was a really family orientated club.
“It was a great starting point and I had some great coaches there along the way.”
Even now he still gets the chance to line up against some of those old teammates.
“We play Sydney in a couple of weeks so I’ll probably try to catch up with Jake (Lloyd) for a coffee while I’m up there,” he said. “It’s also great to see Darcy Tucker doing well at Fremantle.
“I’m not sure what it is about the Wimmera that produces so many high quality players at the moment, maybe it’s something to do with how big a part of the communities clubs are.”
His one piece of advice for upcoming juniors was to just enjoy the game.
“The thing that would surprise a lot of people is how much the basics matter at an AFL level,” he said.
“Every year the team that is best at executing the basics of the game wins the grand final.”