UNDERSTATED Saint Jarryn Geary says the relatively small cohort of St Kilda players that sit in the middle tier of age and experience must start to take on more responsibility for the team’s performance in 2013.
After a most consistent season in 2012, when he finished sixth in the club best and fairest, Geary is focusing on lifting his efforts around the club in an attempt to provide leadership off the field as well as performing on the ground.
“We can’t keep relying on the same blokes like the Dal Santos and Riewoldts,” Geary told AFL.com.au.
With many of the club’s champions pushing 30 or sitting beyond that mark and a large crop of players with fewer than 50 games experience, Geary, 24, identified David Armitage (71 games, aged 24), Ben McEvoy, (69 and aged 23) and Jack Steven (51 and aged 23 at the start of the season), as well as himself as players who must take another step forward to keep the Saints in finals contention.
Geary said the training camp in Colorado was a chance to demonstrate what was required.
“It was a really good opportunity. Not just to train at altitude but to get to know everyone a bit better and to show what you’re about as well,” Geary said.
Geary roomed with young second year player Jimmy Webster while in Colorado, relishing the chance to find out more about him.
One thing he did learn was that the camp was hard work for the youngster.
“He was in bed pretty early most nights,” Geary said. “[It] took a lot out of him.”
The camp took a lot out of plenty of Saints. Geary was fortunate enough, because of his training loads, to be one of 10 players able to escape participation in the team’s final run of the camp. But he said watching his teammates endure the pain it induced was hard enough.
“It was actually sickening to watch them run,” Geary said.
“It was one of those where you really felt for them. A lot of the boys pulled up and said it was one of the hardest things they have ever done.”
But all 30 who participated managed to complete the task, an impressive effort according to Geary.
Although he found watching hard to stomach, you get the feeling he would have loved to be there alongside his teammates.
“Probably this pre-season, more than ever, has been one of our most exciting. We have got a lot of young players who are training well. All the older blokes are getting pushed by the younger blokes,” Geary said.
Geary is known as a hard worker and the results of that hard work began to show in 2012. After enduring injury and patches where his form dropped off towards the end of the seasons, he spent his sixth year at the Saints cementing his spot in the senior team.
Geary said the retirement of Steven Baker at the end of 2011 opened up a defensive position for him, and when the chance came he was ready to take it.
“I had a pretty good pre-season and they showed a bit of faith in me. That was the key to last year. I have been more consistent than I was in previous years. In previous years [I] probably played a few good games here and there but then I would fall away,” Geary said.
“It (consistency) is the one thing I am working on to try to continually improve that as well.”