Few are as deserving of a chance to feature on football's grandest stage than Seb Ross.
The former Horsham Demon has had 138 AFL games to earn his reputation as a first-rate midfielder and influential leader, without ever getting to test himself at the business end of the season.
That will all change on Saturday afternoon when Ross and St Kilda take to the field, ending a 3296-day finals drought.
"I'm just really excited, to be honest," Ross told RSN Breakfast Club.
"It was a big relief really as well, in what's been such a challenging year."
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St Kilda's breakout season has also delivered personal success for the two-time Trevor Barker Award winner.
"In my nine years I'd never won a game over in Adelaide, then we won there twice in two weeks," Ross said.
"The following game we played Sydney - and I'd never beaten them either - and we beat them. So there were a few milestones ticked off along the way."
St Kilda has been based at a Noosa hub since July; something Ross said offered motivation for the playing group.
"Myself and the footy club have really knuckled down and given it a red hot crack this year. So, to see the results and lock up a spot - with all the staff that that are up here sacrificing things as well - it's just such a relief," he said.
It will be a baptism by fire for St Kilda, with an equally-aggressive Western Bulldogs side offering an appealing elimination final match-up.
Ross has been tasked with a new tagging role this season and is primed for a mammoth clash with superstar Dog Marcus Bontempelli.
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Despite the increased pressure, the 27-year-old said the Saints were ready for the challenge.
"There's a real sense and belief that we have nothing to fear. A lot of the teams that ended up in the right we've either beaten this year or gotten really close to (beating)," Ross said.
"We put in the work to secure a spot in the finals, but now we've just got a starting position on the grid.
"Certainly, the job is not finished on our end and that's the way we're treating it."
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