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Late season reward driving Marshall forward

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JULY 22:  Rowan Marshall of the Saints is tackled by Kieren Jack of the Swans during the round 18 AFL match between the Sydney Swans and the St Kilda Saints at Sydney Cricket Ground on July 22, 2017 in Sydney, Australia.  (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images/AFL Media)
St Kilda rookie Rowan Marshall broke through for a debut late this season.
We think he’s taken significant steps forward for us since he walked in the door last year.
Aaron Hamill

Versatile St Kilda tall Rowan Marshall has come on in leaps and bounds in his first season since being plucked in last year’s Rookie Draft, says Saints Senior Assistant Coach Aaron Hamill.

The mature-age recruit inked a two-year contract extension this week following an impressive first season at Linen House Centre that saw him rewarded with a breakthrough debut late in the season.

Marshall, 21, was used in a variety of roles across 16 games at Sandringham, before playing as a key forward in his sole AFL appearance against Sydney at the SCG in Round 18.

“We think he’s taken significant steps forward for us since he walked in the door last year,” Hamill told saints.com.au after Marshall inked a new contract this week.

“We saw that in the VFL and even in the pre-season he came straight in and looked ready to play because he’d played senior footy before in the VFL.

“He was dominating track work and was really impressive in the gym trying to get a lot stronger and a lot bigger.

“We threw him down back for a few games in the VFL and a few in the ruck. He played a lot up forward so he can play a number of roles for us and we saw that he can play them well.”

Hamill said the athletic 201cm utility learnt invaluable lessons from his match-up against Swans All-Australian key defender Heath Grundy, with the exposure fuelling his development late in the season and fuelling his hunger ahead of his second pre-season.

“He played in a baptism of fire up in Sydney against Heath Grundy in his first game and he’s certainly not the first player to have his colours lowered against Grundy,” he said.

“But he’s learnt a lot since then and we’d like to think with another pre-season under his belt and being in the AFL program he’s going to keep heading north for us.”