Senior Jack Billings - Player Advocate: Premium

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Jack had 22 disposals and 5 tackles against the Giants but no impact on the scoreboard which is what we really need him to do.


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Jack was one of our better players against the Dogs with 27 disposals, 8 marks and 5 tackles . He also kicked a goal .


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Jack was one of our best players against the Drug Cheats with 25 disposals and 2 goals . He started off really well but then was moved deeper forward of the ball which took him out of the game a fair bit .


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After a blistering 2017 campaign, Jack Billings would be the first to admit 2018 didn’t go as planned.

But after a slump in the early part of the season and one game for Sandringham (where he amassed an incredible 54 disposals), Billings was back to his best by season’s end.

Increased time in the midfield allowed the talented 23-year-old to showcase his outside class and employ his superb field-kicking, while he also regained his goal nous, registering majors in each of the final four games of the season.

Billings averaged a disposal efficiency rating of 86.3%, placing him in the Saints’ top 10 for ball use, but as was the case in 2017, his main strength was his ability to set up scoring opportunities.

The 2013 pick No. 3 topped the Saints in goal assists (22) for the second consecutive year, while he ranked third for inside-50s (88).

Assistant Coach Ben McGlynn was rapt with Billings’ end to the season.

“I thought JB finished the year really strongly,” he said.

“His goalkicking still needs to improve going forward, but he’s getting the opportunities, which is the main thing.

“His pressure also really ramped up in the back half of the year, and he was laying three or four tackles a game.”

But it was the way Billings responded to a highly-publicised omission that McGlynn was most pleased about.

“Jack was first-class in terms of his attitude when he came back to the VFL,” he said.

“He had his 50-odd possessions, and it was good that he came back into the seniors where he belongs, because he’s a quality player that we need going forward.

“Jack probably realised when he went out of the team that you can’t take it for granted playing at AFL level, and he’s always applied himself very well, he’s very professional and does all the right things in terms of his preparation and recovery, but it was just a matter of translating that to AFL consistently.

“I think we’ll see Jack Billings take another big step in the summer to potentially lead this footy club going forward.”


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ST KILDA young gun Jack Billings says opening contract talks with the Saints before the season gets underway isn't a priority, as he focuses on helping the club climb back up the ladder.

The 23-year-old will enter the final year of his contract in 2019 after signing a two-year deal in 2017.

Prolonged negotiations could prove a distraction for the young Saint, should it drag on well into next season, but it's a risk Billings is willing to take.

"To be honest I haven't really thought about it," Billings told AFL.com.au.

"As a player you try and look at what you can control, and that's trying to have the best pre-season that I can, so that is my focus.

"I love the club, and I hope I don't keep getting asked about the contract next year because it will get annoying."

Last week, St Kilda list manager James Gallagher told the Road to the Draft podcast the club was keen to lock away Billings on a long-term deal as the Saints continue to build a blueprint for future success.

Billings believes the Saints have the talent on paper, but he knows there is still a lot of hard work to be done if the club wants to win its second premiership.

WHO MAKES FINALS? Do the 2019 Ladder Predictor

"We have a great young talented list at the club now," Billings said.

"They're all really keen and want to make their mark. Obviously after the season we had this year, everyone is pretty hungry for success.

"But what we learned as a club this year is that there are no guarantees. Even though we have young talented players, it doesn't mean success is going to happen straight away. We need to work hard and I'm really looking forward to working with all the boys and improving as a club."

NO SHANGHAI SURPRISE Saints' whirlwind trip to China

The Saints recruited experienced midfielder Dan Hannebery from the Swans during the NAB AFL Trade Period.

His arrival at the club prompted speculation Billings could be put on the trade table.

Those whispers reached the ears of Billings, but the youngster was confident he wasn't going anywhere.

WHO'S LEAVING YOUR CLUB? All the latest retirements and delistings

"I didn't worry about [the rumours]," he said.

"That time of year, there's not much to talk about so rumours get thrown around. I know what is in my control, so it doesn't really bother me. I literally didn't even speak to anyone about it at the club, so from my end it was all good."

As for his own football going forward, Billings is keen to spend more time in the midfield in 2019.

He is working towards a 50-50 split between playing up forward, and pushing into the middle, and is hopeful new assistant coach Brett Ratten can help improve his game.

"I'm pretty excited that Brett's come to the club" he said.

"He's going to be the forwards coach so I'll still be working with him a fair bit. Hopefully I can develop a strong relationship with him and improve my game and challenge myself at the same time.

"At the end of the day I've got to perform if I want to play in the midfield but I do feel like I do have the attributes to help out there. I feel like I have a lot to add, I just need to work really hard."


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Saturday, 10 November 2018
Jack Billings says he has no intentions of starting contract talks with the club prior to the start of the 2019 season.
"I haven't really thought about it," Billings said.

"I love the club, and I hope I don't keep getting asked about the contract next year because it will get annoying."

Nat Edwards for AFL.com.au
Wednesday, 7 November 2018
Jack Billings is sent on a fact-finding trip to Shanghai in preparation for St Kilda's first-ever game in China in 2019.
"I'll be able to hopefully tell my teammates and other staff about what to expect when you come to Shanghai," Billings said.

"It's a long flight but we'll get here a few days before and have time to adjust. I think mentally realising it is what it is, and not letting it affect the way we want to play against Port Adelaide (is important).

"We've been visiting a few hotels while we've been over here, testing them out in terms of facilities and nutrition, food. I think as much as we can, if we can keep it to our normal routine at home that would be good."

Nat Edwards for AFL.com.au
 

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The character of AFL players is constantly tested.

In a critical industry where everyone is under the microscope, it’s easy to get caught up in the negativity and scrutiny, especially when expectations – from both from a team and individual perspective – are judged to have fallen short.

But Jack Billings is not one to be bogged down.


For the talented Saint, it’s about utilising his unmovable focus, pressing forward and refusing to stagnate, particularly in light of St Kilda’s poor 2018.

“What’s happened has happened; it’s all about looking forward,” Billings said.

“We all know we didn’t perform the way we wanted to last year, but we need to take confidence from all the training we’ve done so far in pre-season and look forward to the season and winning games.”

Looking forward to better things is one of Billings’ key mantras, as the 23-year-old tirelessly works on developing into a fully-fledged midfielder after a heavily-scrutinised 2018.

The young Saint was the subject of much criticism last season, with Billings unable to capture his dynamism and finesse in the opening half of the year, ultimately culminating in his omission from the senior side in Round 12.

A subsequent 54-disposal haul for Sandringham reignited some of the spark that makes him such a dangerous asset to the Saints, with Billings going on to register over 20 disposals in every match for the remainder of Season 2018.

Even with the external noise surrounding his effectiveness and doubts about his future as a cornerstone of the club, Billings never let it rattle his belief.

“Everyone’s different, but I think personally you’ve just got to block it out and ignore it,” Billings said.

The most important people are the people in these four walls – your teammates, your coaches – and then your family outside.”

“You’ve got to remember what’s important and who’s important.”

With a move into the Saints’ engine room impending, midfield coach Brendon Lade said he was excited to see what Billings could add to the Saints’ on-ball brigade in 2019.

“He’s a versatile player and obviously dangerous in front of goal, so he will likely still have a role to play inside 50,” Lade said.

“But we are keen to see him up around the ball where he can use his long kicking and creativity to set us up.

“I’ve been really impressed by his work defensively in match simulations, which is what you need if you are going play in the midfield.

“He’s the type of player who is at every optional session and always at my desk watching tapes to see how he is tracking and how he can improve.”

Now entering his sixth year at the Saints, Billings is adamant both himself and the team can move onward and nurture success following a turbulent 2018.

“We’re putting in the work, so I think you want to bounce back for each other, because we’re all a lot better and capable of a lot more,” Billings said.

“You start the season fresh, so it’s up to us how far we want to take it.”


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St Kilda young gun Jack Billings wants to spend more time in the midfield next season, alongside new recruit Dan Hannebery
AFL


Jack Billings in action against Hawthorn in Round 22 this year.Source: News Corp Australia
Jack Billings wants to spend more time inside a St Kilda engine room that now includes three-time All-Australian Dan Hannebery.
After producing a breakout 2017 where he finished 5th in the Trevor Barker Award, Billings experienced an up and down 2018.
The 23-year-old found himself out of Alan Richardson’s team midway through the year, before amassing 54 disposals in the VFL to earn an immediate recall.
He clicked into gear after that, averaging just under 25 disposals across the final 10 games of the season to generate some momentum into the pre-season.
Round 1

Now nearly at the halfway mark of his sixth summer at the Saints, the 2013 No. 3 pick is determined to get the runs on the board this pre-season to increase his midfield minutes in 2019.
“I still like playing forward as well so it’s obviously going to be a bit of both but I think I can really help through the midfield,” Billings told reporters at a press conference at RSEA Park on Thursday.
“I’m going to have to work really hard over the summer and show ‘Richo’ and the coaches that I need to spend more time there and help the side.
“But I’d definitely still like the combination of midfield and forward and I think that’s one of my strengths.”
Jack Billings on the burst against Carlton late last season.Source: News Corp Australia

Billings said the arrival of star free agent Hannebery hasn’t only given the Saints a boost on the track, where the former Swan is renowned for his work rate, it has also made an instant impact on St Kilda’s leadership.
“He’s a bull at a gate which is awesome to have around the club and I guess there will be a lot of talk about his performance on the field but I think the biggest impact he’ll have next year will be stuff that you can’t really see,” he said.
“It will be the impact on guys around him — me included — and the leadership he brings in that aspect. So it’s really exciting already, only a few weeks in of what he’s been able to do for the group and continue forward and looking forward to playing with him as well.”
Dan Hannebery during a training session at RSEA Park last month.Source: Getty Images
With his current deal expiring at the end of next October, Billings is focused on putting a big pre-season in the bank before turning his attention to his next contract.
“Pre-season is a bit of a slog in itself. I’m just focusing on getting my body right and getting as fit and strong as I can and improving my game. Honestly, that’s what you think about,” he said.
“Obviously I love the club and I’m looking forward to next year. When the time comes I’ll work things out.”
 

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Billings elevated to St Kilda's leadership group

St Kilda have elevated Jack Billings to the club's leadership group to fill the place of the injured Dylan Roberton, who has already revealed he'll miss the season.

The Age understands Billings, 23, was told of the decision in the aftermath of Roberton announcing that he would take a year out of the game following the latest concern surrounding his heart.

Billings has played 85 games in his five seasons at the Saints and the club internally holds high hopes for him in 2019, given he's had more than 90 shots on goal in the last two seasons.

The midfielder/forward was taken with the No.3 pick overall in the 2013 draft.
 

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That is a great decision. Who decided? Players or Coaching Group? Or both? Either way I think it will be a huge advantage to JB and the playing group. JB is a thinking footballer; the more he can be involved in the responsibility of leading the better.
 

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Spreading his wings: Jack Billings has finally found his niche on the wing for St Kilda
April 04, 2019

Dirty Harry Callahan told us that a man’s got to know his limitations.
Jack Billings might never be able to hit the side of a barn with a football when in range of goal but he can find the football like few AFL wingmen.
This year Jade Gresham’s spectacular midfield play has drawn the plaudits as he rewards Alan Richardson’s licence to thrill.
Yet Billings’ positioning as a pure wingman rather than misfiring half-forward is reaping just as many rewards.
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The player so often unfavourably compared to draft alumni Marcus Bontempelli has played 84 per cent of game time as a pure wingman and led St Kilda’s possession tallies in both games.
His pair of 28-possession games in wins over Gold Coast and Essendon have included a pair of shots at goal.
Yep, the man who kicked 14.19 from 40 shots last year (the second-worst accuracy in the comp) missed them both.
Jack Billings dashes past Gold Coast Suns midfielder Wil Powell in Round 1. Picture: Dylan Burns/AFL Photos.
What he can do is relentlessly find the ball, with Champion Data ranking him third in possessions for AFL wingmen and third for score assists (seven per game).
St Kilda has urged him to not only hunt the ball but increase his physicality and split contests with his speed and aggression.
Right now the midfield is going so well top-10 pick Hunter Clark can’t find a way in, with Jack Steele following up last year’s breakout season and high-profile recruit Dan Hannebery barely missed.
St Kilda champion Danny Frawley, who worked at the Saints as a part-time coach as recently as last year, says Richardson is getting reward from some tough love with Billings.
“He had a really good year in 2017 but his accuracy was letting him down,” he told the Herald Sun.
“All credit to Richo, I am sure his patience would have been waning when he was compared to contemporaries going well around that draft pick number.
Jack Billings came in for criticism last year for his woes in front of goal. Picture: Michael Klein.
“Richo has made him earn it and rightly so. He dropped him last year and would feel justified that he didn’t hand a game to him on a platter.
“He has turned into an elite trainer, I know “Sammy” Hamill did a lot of work with him on the workrate side of things and he is reaping the benefits of playing on a wing.”
Billings’ contract talks are on delay right now, with the sixth-year Saint keen to remain but only after he has built a strong body of work.
Keep it up and not only will he get that lucrative pay rise but a coach maximising his players’ talents will find himself safe as houses as well.

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