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Billings' tough new mantra

JLT1 | Billings highlights Jack Billings had 20 disposals, four tackles and two goals in our win over the Kangaroos at Avalon Airport Oval.

Jack Billings’ class and talent has never been questioned, but he’s determined not to let that define him as a footballer.

With the Saints single-minded on a response after a torrid four-win season, Billings is equally desperate to make his mark and ramp up his defensive pressure.

And as the mercury rose to a blistering 38 degrees on Saturday afternoon, Billings also turned up the heat.

Tough, unrelenting, two-way football was the mantra, and he delivered in spades.

READ: Billings: 'It's all about looking forward'

The 23-year-old was ruthless in his attack on the opposition all afternoon, amassing 23 pressure acts and piling on four tackles.

His renewed aggression and defensive mindset formed the basis for his game, perfectly complemented by his well-renowned class with ball in hand.

A game-high nine score involvements illustrated his huge impact in attack, while he showcased his elite disposal with 20 touches at 80% efficiency.

Two majors were worthy reward for effort, while his willingness for the contest manifested in eight contested possessions.

Even more tellingly, Billings looked settled in his new home in the middle of the park, and the role of point guard sits comfortably on his mantle.

Countless St Kilda forays found an avenue forward through the creative No. 15, as his silky left foot did its best to correct a black mark on the Saints’ 2018; efficiency inside 50m.

A gruelling pre-season has galvanised the Saints under Alan Richardson, as both team and individuals continue to build momentum towards Season 2019.

JLT HIGHLIGHTS: Saints v North Melbourne

Billings has endured his fair share of critics throughout the journey – such is the cross to bear for a high draft pick in modern-day football – and that external noise reached a crescendo last year.

A more versatile midfield role will help to unleash Billings’ enormous potential, but for the highly-rated Saint, his biggest focus is pretty simple.

Block out the noise, silence the critics.

Run and chase.