Ben Paton entered Round 4, 2019 as an emergency and came out with a brilliant opportunity to secure a place in the senior side.
Jarryn Geary’s late withdrawal through illness afforded the young defender the chance to impress, with Paton playing another 12 games for the year off the back of his determined efforts.
Fast-forward to 2020, and the emerging talent has grown into an important member of the Saints’ young backline.
Alongside Hunter Clark and Nick Coffield, Paton has received Brett Ratten’s backing to pin down an important role in the remodelled defence.
His largely unsung lockdown responsibilities have had substantial influences in several of St Kilda’s 2020 victories, with sound performances on Kane Lambert, Brad Ebert, Toby Greene and All-Australian forwards Eddie Betts, Tom Papley and Charlie Cameron, who were all kept to just one goal.
Ratten has labelled the Tallangatta local a “mini Jack Billings” – Paton’s housemate for three years – through his on-and-off-field approach, with his growing influence beginning to reflect the high praise.
Paton sits in the Saints’ top-three for marks, intercept marks and intercept possessions in Season 2020.
A broken tibia and fibula in a pre-season match simulation ultimately put a line through a promising follow-up campaign.
Paton was selected by St Kilda with pick No. 46 in the 2017 National Draft.