Senior Ben Paton - Player Advocate: St Pauls

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Norm Smith Medallist
Oct 31, 2016
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St Kilda has acquired Murray Bushrangers midfielder-defender Ben Paton with their fourth and final pick at No. 46 in Friday night's NAB AFL Draft in Sydney.

After being overlooked in last year's drafts, Paton returned to the Bushrangers this season as a 19-year-old overage player and thrived in a new role in defence.

The shift from the midfield to the backline paid dividends for the tenacious teenager, with his early season form attracting the attention of the Vic Country selectors.

Paton cemented a spot in the championships and performed so strongly he was rewarded with All-Australian selection in the same defence as new teammates Oscar Clavarino and Nick Coffield.

At the end of the championships, Paton played two games for Collingwood in the VFL, impressing with his seamless transition against senior bodies.

Although it wasn't the first time he had played senior football.

In 2015, a then 16-year-old Paton played 18 games for Mitta United in the Tallangatta and District Football League, where he handled his first exposure to mature bodies so well he won the best and fairest.

Paton enhanced his standing in the draft pool at the combine in October when he finished third in the standing vertical leap, jumping 80cm, before recording the sixth fastest time in the 20 metre sprint at 2.95 seconds.

Snapshot:

Height: 185cm
Weight: 77kg
Club: Murray Bushrangers/ Vic Country
Position: Defender-midfielder

 

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Norm Smith Medallist
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What a difference a year makes. This time last year, Ben Paton had just been overlooked in the Draft and was contemplating a move to Melbourne to start university and play football for a VFL team.

A surprise offer to play at the Murray Bushrangers as a 19-year-old overage player put in motion a series of events that culminated in St Kilda selecting the boy from just outside Albury with their last pick in Friday night’s NAB AFL Draft.

Paton, 19, shifted from the midfield to defence at the start of 2017, where his eye-catching form as an intercepting defender attracted the eye of Vic Country selectors.

From there, his standout national carnival earned him All-Australian honours, elevating him up draft boards in the process and into the Saints' hands at pick No. 46.

“I was really optimistic about this year and thought I’d been given a great opportunity (at the Murray Bushrangers) so I just worked hard all year,” Paton told saints.com.au on Wednesday.

“A change of position helped me as well, going from the midfield to back.”

When the 2017 NAB AFL Draft finally arrived last weekend, Paton was with his parents at his home in Tallangatta South, which is south-east of Albury and Wodonga.

While he had met with the Saints a few times, and even had State Recruiting Manager Chris Toce out to the family farm, he had no idea that the club would call his name out.

“I’d met with the Saints a few times leading into the draft, so I knew they were sort of interested, but to get read out by St Kilda I’m over the moon,” he said.

Paton met his new teammates for the first time on Monday morning, but on Wednesday he was joined by a Murray Bushrangers teammate after the Saints selected Doulton Langlands with their only live pick in Monday afternoon’s NAB AFL Rookie Draft.

“Me and Doult are really good mates. We’d sort of talked about it before and said, ‘imagine if we ended up at the same club’. It’s unreal that it’s happened,” he said.

“He’s a really good player so I’m looking forward to him getting down here.”

So after all that, Paton finally lands in Melbourne, with the dream still alive.
 

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Norm Smith Medallist
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While some draftees don’t have to move out of home when their names are read out on draft night and others move in with host families, Ben Paton landed at Jack Billings’ house when he moved down from Albury and has been there ever since.

The midfielder-defender was acquired with St Kilda’s fourth and final pick (No. 46) in last November’s NAB AFL Draft, following an eye-catching year for the Murray Bushrangers and Vic Country, where his form in the carnival earned him All-Australian selection.

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Paton, 19, admits moving in with one of the games rising stars was intimidating at first, but Billings has quickly become a sounding board for anything and everything in his first pre-season at Linen House Centre.

“I suppose it was a bit daunting at the start, living with a rising star of the competition. I didn’t want to put a foot wrong, but he’s only human,” Paton told saints.com.au with a grin this week.

“Being able to talk to him about anything to do with footy, or even outside footy has been really helpful.

“Just to be able to rub shoulders with him and get some knowledge off him has been awesome. He’s been in the system for five years now and his professionalism is really impressive.”

With his maiden pre-season nearly sewn up, Paton admits he is looking forward to games replacing the brutal summer slog.

“I’ve nearly got my first pre-season under the belt. It’s been a really good experience,” he said.

“It’s definitely been tough work, so it’s good to start playing more games at training and get closer to proper games now.”

Paton says the transition from the TAC Cup to inside the tent of an AFL club has been made easier by the presence of the other draftees, who he already knew from his underage career.

He played at the Bushrangers with rookie Doulton Langlands, and at Vic Country with Hunter Clark (pick No. 7) and Oscar Clavarino (No. 35), while he was named in the All-Australian side with Nick Coffield (No. 8).

“We’re a close group of mates and outside the footy club we all get along really well. We go down to the beach or go out somewhere,” he said.

“It’s been a really good transition out of the TAC Cup and into an AFL environment with those boys.”


Can’t wait for 2018 season.
 

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Norm Smith Medallist
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Ben is still recovering from his thumb injury . He will miss at least another three weeks . It’s a shame because Richo said he was close to be picked for round one before he injured his thumb . The only plus side is he should still be fit .


Go Sainters.
 

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Norm Smith Medallist
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Is back playing again . Played against Port Melbourne for Sandy . Not sure if he played the week before . Hopefully will get a game or two in the seniors this year.


Go Saints
 

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Norm Smith Medallist
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Ben has been named on the extended bench for the Melbourne game . Still might not play but it is encouraging that his name has come up . I really hope he plays soon.


Go Saints
 

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Norm Smith Medallist
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Ben Paton has shown plenty of promise for Sandringham so far in 2018, and the 19-year-old once again staked his claim for senior selection on the weekend, collecting 19 touches and laying six tackles.
 

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Norm Smith Medallist
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Ben Paton was in Sandringham’s best on the weekend, collecting 19 touches and laying six tackles.

The promising youngster, taken at pick No. 46 in the 2017 National Draft, has performed consistently in the VFL this year and is pushing hard for his first senior call-up.


Go Saints
 

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Norm Smith Medallist
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Ben Paton (1.0) 12 kicks, 12 handballs, three marks, five tackles

We’re really pleased with Ben’s development. He was really good in offence and defence and he was able to get 10 contested possessions as well. Last week there was a little bit of lag to his defence, but he was able to tighten that up this week. His concentration, work rate and work ethic were much better, and his GPS suggests that.


Go Saints
 

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Norm Smith Medallist
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Ben Paton is another first-year player who’s impressed at VFL level, and after sitting out last week as the carryover emergency in Perth, the utility is raring to make his senior debut.


Go Saints
 

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Norm Smith Medallist
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First-year Saint Ben Paton was a cut above in the VFL on Sunday afternoon despite Sandringham’s 28-point loss to Geelong at Trevor Barker Beach Oval.

Up against a very strong Cats outfit, the Zebras started on fire, booting six goals in the first term before the visitors took control to slot through ten majors to Sandringham’s four in the last three quarters.

Paton continues to develop nicely at VFL level, with the 19-year-old’s two-goal haul the most recent of a string of strong outings that have undoubtedly caught the eye of Alan Richardson and his selection committee.


Go Saints
 

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Norm Smith Medallist
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Hamill says - Ben Paton (2.0) 11 kicks, 9 handballs, 3 marks, 14 tackles

I’d be surprised if we didn’t see 'Pato' make his debut this year. He’s developing really well as an inside midfielder and can go forward as well. He had 14 tackles, so he’s a bull inside, he gets his hands dirty and he’s not afraid to roll his sleeves up. Pato’s been really focussing on his ability to work in between the arcs and get back and support his defence, and then use the ball on the way out and get to the next contest.


Go Saints
 

Brains Trust66

Norm Smith Medallist
Oct 31, 2016
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Ben Paton has been on the brink of senior selection a number of times so far in 2018, and the first-year Saint has continued to press his case with a string of strong performances in the VFL.

Taken with pick No. 46 at last year’s draft, the ex-Murray Bushranger’s capacity to win the hard ball and play multiple positions should hold him in good stead for an AFL debut before the season’s out.


Go Saints
 

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