Hunter Clark is set to take his game to another level in 2020, according to reigning best-and-fairest Seb Ross.
“He’s a really brave kid, his decision-making is elite, and his ball use is elite,” Ross told SEN Breakfast.
"We know the talent he’s got and he was able to show that off the half-back line last year.”
After a shaky start to 2019 which featured just the three senior appearances, Clark regained his confidence with the help of St Kilda great Aaron Hamill.
NEVER WOBBLE ON YOUR CONFIDENCE: Hamill sparks Clark’s turnaround
The youngster’s revival through the VFL saw him earn a call-up for Round 13 against Gold Coast, before he went on to star in every game for the rest of the season.
Playing off the half-back line, Clark’s sleek footwork, disposal and poise became a glittering feature in the second half of the season.
The Mount Martha local was superb against Geelong (25 disposals), the Western Bulldogs (26, two goals) and Fremantle (26), and also played a game-changing hand in the Saints’ victory over Melbourne with a skilful pick-up and forward entry through heavy traffic.
Clark also showed his toughness against North Melbourne, bouncing back up after being poleaxed by a rampaging Jack Ziebell.
It’s the small acts that have warranted admiration from the St Kilda faithful, with the 20-year-old poised to take the next step in his career this pre-season.
“Hunter’s come back in great shape,” Ross said.
“He’s going to be able to have a big pre-season where he’s doing 90-100 per cent, whereas in your first couple of years you’re sort of pulled in and out of drills.
“It’s hard to build that AFL body and really bulletproof your body.”
And with a sturdier frame and an increased engine heading into the new year, it could spell more midfield minutes for the No. 11.
“I’m happy to have him in the midfield, I think that’s where he’ll eventually get to and he’ll be a really good player in there,” Ross said.
“I liked what he did off half-back to be honest, so if we can get him going on the half-back line or in the midfield I’m happy to play him wherever.”
After being taken with pick No. 7 at the 2017 National Draft, Clark has played 29 games for the red, white and black.