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Geary hopes there’s more in store

YOUNG St Kilda midfielder Jarryn Geary says his biggest goal in the next few weeks is just to hold his spot in the senior team, despite the Bendigo junior making a huge impression on his senior debut on Saturday night.

Geary was one of the Saints’ best on the night, picking up 21 touches and playing a vital hand in the club’s narrow two-point victory over the Swans.

But the former rookie – elevated to the club’s senior list over summer after a terrific season with the Saints’ VFL affiliate, Casey Scorpions – concedes there’s no guarantee of a spot for him in St Kilda’s elite midfield as the season goes on.

“I thought I went okay, but I’ve still got a lot of work to do and it’s fingers crossed that I get another run this week against Carlton,” Geary told afl.com.au during the week.

Having never played at this level before, the 19-year-old says he went into his first game not knowing exactly what to expect, but just hoping to do the simple things well.

“It was obviously a bit of a step up from VFL footy and the NAB Cup,” he said. “It was pretty intense and exciting but by the end of it, I was pretty tired.

“I didn’t really go in with any expectations. I just wanted to beat my man in the backline, with my main job for the night just to pick up any of their small forwards who try drift in and rotate around.”

Geary said coach Ross Lyon didn’t especially offer any individual praise post-match – just some words of encouragement and a general reinforcement about the team’s goals.

“I haven’t really spoken to him too much, it was just more about the team things he spoke about and where we can work on and improve for the coming weeks,” Geary said.

“I’m pretty keen on the team things anyway, and anything else, so long as we won, was a bit of a bonus. To get my hands on footy was a nice extra.”

Geary’s first touch was a handball to Leigh Montagna after Barry Hall gave away a free kick, and he says there’s no shortage of role models for him to look up too at St Kilda, including the teammate on the receiving end of his first possession.

“Lenny Hayes and Robert Harvey in particular are just fantastic to learn from, and they’re such hard trainers, so I try to take a leaf out of their books,” Geary said.

“There’s plenty of good midfielders who are a bit younger as well. Leigh and Luke Ball are also such class players so it’s a really great midfield group we’ve got and you pick up something from everyone.”

Geary knows firsthand that the life of a rookie is never easy – there’s no certainty about a permanent position on the senior list at the end of the year, yet the rest of your life must be put on hold as you focus all your energies on being elevated at the end of the season.

There’s also a hint of competition too, with some clubs having up to six rookies from which to choose.

While St Kilda’s 2007 batch comprised four midfielders all capable of stepping onto the senior list, Geary says both he and Robert Eddy were far from jealous – and actually inspired – after seeing Clinton Jones and Jayden Attard (who Geary says is recovering well and already running after a knee injury) promoted early in the season.

“Jayden and Clinton with their experience probably had the upper hand, but to see them get a go was really good for me and Rob,” Geary said.

“Seeing them promoted kind of made us feel a bit more a part of the club and that any one of us could be called up at any stage.”

“We all played pretty well at various parts of the season, and Rob had a great year too, so he was probably a bit stiff not to be put up as well.”

Geary admits he isn’t sure what he’d be doing if he hadn’t been elevated by the Saints at the end of last year.

“I would have hoped I could have been re-listed as a rookie, but outside of that, I really don’t know,” he said.

“I like living in Melbourne, but maybe I’d have gone home, studied or played VFL.

“Really, I’ve always just wanted to play footy, and now that I’ve got that chance, I’m going to work as hard as I can to make it with St Kilda.”