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Contender: Jimmy Webster

Michael Ryan  September 14, 2018 4:19 PM

Jimmy Webster could be taking home his first Trevor Barker Award after an incredible year.
Jimmy has probably been our best attacking defender for the season.

Jimmy Webster was indisputably one of the Saints’ best players in 2018, and he’s firmly in the hunt for his first Trevor Barker Award after an outstanding season.

The Tasmanian half-back showcased an impressive footballing arsenal throughout the year, punctuated by his unwavering courage against bigger bodies and his first-class distribution.

The departure of defensive stalwart Joey Montagna at the close of 2017 signalled the end of an era for the Saints’ back six, but it also created an opportunity for another to step up and fill the void.

READ: Webster: Larrikinism, laughter & loyalty

Webster has slotted seamlessly into the role of rebounding half-back, his elite and raking left foot causing headaches for opposition coaches all season.

In a year where the Saints were often battered by opposition inside-50s, the 25-year-old offered a reliable exit point, with his average of 4.8 rebound-50s the twelfth-highest in the league.

Saints fans need look no further than Webster’s Round 7 spoil against Melbourne to gauge his extraordinary bravery.

The No. 29 sprinted back with the flight before spoiling the ball over the boundary and crashing into Melbourne’s Sam Weiderman at full tilt.

For six years, the hardened backman has shown no hesitation in putting his body on the line for the sake of his team, a trait that’s endeared him to both teammates and fans alike.

Webster’s unique tonic of courage and class perfectly complements the composure and marking prowess of fellow defender and Trevor Barker Award contender Jake Carlisle.

And in the absence of Dylan Roberton for much of 2018, the pair worked in tandem to release the Saints from the back.

Webster’s best game of the year came in Round 10, when a spirited Saints outfit gave the Tigers a scare in the third term.

Leading from the back, the Tasmanian amassed career-high figures in both disposals (36, 10 contested) and rebound-50s (11), while he also gained a game-high 627 metres.

If there’s a single blemish on Webster’s year, it’s that he struggled for consistency in his body, as niggling groin and hip flexor issues saw him miss five games.

READ: Trevor Barker Award: The contenders

But Director of Coaching Danny Sexton was full of praise for the Saints’ premier rebounder.

“Jimmy had a standout season, which sounds funny because he’s had so many different injuries,” Sexton said.

“But we think Jimmy has probably been our best attacking defender for the season.

“He defends desperately, and he defends urgently – he’s not often beaten one-on-one – but Jimmy can also give us some real drive and attack from half-back.”

READ: Webster rises to the challenge

And Sexton said Webster’s ability to launch the Saints into offence from the backline didn’t just rely on his deadly-accurate left boot.

“He’s a very penetrating kick, but he’s also quite quick, and he’s got a good step to evade opponents.

“It’s a shame his season has been so interrupted at different stages, because his form has been as good as it’s ever been in his career.”

Webster finished seventh in last year’s count, polling 88 votes.