It was only meant to be a one-week gig.
When Jarryn Geary was a late withdrawal against Hawthorn in Round 4, vice-captain Ross stepped into the skipper’s shoes with a match-winning 39-disposal performance.
It wasn’t the first time he’d captained the Saints, but it was arguably his most impressive – the Silk-Miller Memorial Medal proof of his dominant display.
Little did Seb Ross know, it would become a 17-week stint.
Ross duly handed back the reins to Geary the following week, but he never thought he’d assume the captaincy following his teammate’s horror year with injury.
And in a situation where many would falter, the silky midfielder stood tall.
Ross delivered consistency and leadership throughout a season which endured many hardships, leaving him as a frontrunner for the Trevor Barker Award.
Classy with ball in hand, rarely flustered and like a magnet to the footy – particularly on the outside – the North Ballarat product starred with the added responsibility.
The stand-in skipper’s consistency was unchanging, being just one of seven Saints to line up for every game in 2019.
His composure under the weight of expectation also translated to statistical dominance.
Following his remarkable season, the 26-year-old led the Saints for disposals (572), inside-50s (91), effective disposals (417), metres gained (8759) and score involvements (139), all the while guiding the Saints through his resolute leadership.
It’s a sign of his all-round contributions and that his commitment can never be questioned.
Ross’ outside run was a feature week to week, and although his gut-busting efforts often went unnoticed, they were crucial in setting up St Kilda’s surges forward.
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Superb performances against West Coast (31 disposals), Gold Coast (31 disposals, 10 clearances) and Melbourne (31 disposals, two goals, nine tackles) punctuated his year; the latter earning him a perfect 10 from the AFLCA.
His reliability saw him as a regular feature on the stats sheet almost every week, which was rivalled by very few in the senior side.
In fact, Ross was so dependable that he ranked in St Kilda's top-three 16 times for uncontested possessions, 15 times for disposals, 11 times for metres gained and five times for clearances.
Of those, he topped each count over five times.
Seb Ross led his side through the banner 17 times out of a possible 22 games.
But the 2017 Trevor Barker Award winner led the side in more ways than one in 2019.
His on-field leadership, encouragement and enormous heart – coupled with his ascendancy with ball in hand – was the most vital asset to the red, white and black.
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The unswerving midfielder’s game has grown exponentially in the captaincy role – the belief in his abilities increasing as his teammates continue to look to him for guidance.
As a fan, when the No. 6 entered the arena, you knew what you’d get: durability, dependability and unfailing leadership.
The 21 other Saints out on the park knew the same.
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