Star St Kilda midfielder Seb Ross has hit a purple patch of form recently, bettering a career-high 40-disposal haul against the Bulldogs last week with a monumental 43 touches on Friday night in the loss to Essendon.
His dominant showing against the Bombers, albeit in a losing side, earned him five votes in the 2018 Shadforth Financial Group AFLCA Champion Player of the Year Award.
READ: Pierce, Ross fight on
In his 100th game, the 25-year-old was the sole Saint to poll any votes, working himself to exhaustion and willing his side forward when his teammates seemingly faded.
Ross’s prolific numbers tell the story well; among his game-high 43 disposals (at an astonishing 86% efficiency rating) were nine contested possessions, 12 score involvements, nine inside-50s, five clearances and four tackles.
WATCH: Seb hits 100 games
The 2017 Trevor Barker Award winner has been one of the Saints’ most consistent performers in 2018, averaging 29.7 disposals and four tackles per game.
“Seb Ross in his 100th was really strong again,” Richardson said post-match.
“He’s been a terrific player for us, our reigning club champion – he plays the right way, Seb – and he did himself proud tonight with the way he played.”
I think more than ever it burns in the guys’ guts a little bit...I’m heading into my eighth year and still haven‘t played finals.
Seb Ross finished runner-up in the 2018 Trevor Barker Award, but the star Saints midfielder is not letting individual accolades cloud his primary goal: finals football.
Earmarked as a future captain of the club, Ross's sole focus remains on how his side will respond after a disappointing year.
“I think more than ever it burns in the guys’ guts a little bit,” he told saints.com.au.
“I’m heading into my eighth year and still haven‘t played finals, so I’m more committed and more motivated than ever to get myself right and try to teach the younger boys what it’s all about.
“I’ve been into the footy club a fair bit, and it’s great to see 10-12 blokes there each day filtering through – I think the guys really know what this group can achieve.
“Yeah, we had a lean year this year, but I know we’re really confident of the year we can have next year.”
But he very nearly pipped eventual winner Jack Steven at the post, in what unfolded as a thrilling last few rounds.
Midway through the count last Wednesday night, it became clear this year’s Trevor Barker Award would come down to a two-horse race.
Steven held a relatively comfortable lead at Round 18, but everyone in the room knew Ross was coming.
The star midfielder stormed home in the dying stages of Season 2018, nipping at his teammate’s heels right up until the final round, before a rampant Steven put in a best-afield performance against North Melbourne to claim the win.
Ross finished on a total of 175 votes, 18 shy of four-time winner Steven but 16 more than his own 2017 award-winning tally of 159.
The 25-year-old polled in all but four games in 2018, but it was his stellar run home that has Ross primed to explode into 2019.
A career-best 40-disposal, three-goal haul against the Bulldogs in Round 20 was bettered one week later, when the hard on-baller racked up 43 touches against the Bombers.
Ross’ 2018 statistics further confirm he is among the Saints’ most elite, polling first overall in disposals, second in tackles, rebound-50s, inside-50s and clearances, and third in contested possessions.
He backed up his award-winning 2017 by continuing to amass huge numbers, his average 30.1 disposals the eighth-highest in the league.
Rather than rest on his laurels after his Trevor Barker Award-winning 2017 season, Ross got to work.
“I suppose winning it last year made me more determined,” he said.
“You never want to be one of those players that wins something and then falls away, so I probably had one of my biggest off-seasons last year, then I came back and ran PB times.
“I really wanted to prove to myself and my teammates that I was serious about having real team success.”
Ross has consistently been one of the Saints’ best for two years running, and if he can continue his recent run of form into 2019, big things are coming.
A solid first hitout for Seb in 40 degree weather, leading the team with 23 disposals (11K, 12H), 4 marks and 3 tackles. He also lead the team with 5 clearances, while also being strong on the outside with 17 uncontested possessions at 78.3% efficiency. Going forward, he needs to work on impacting the game with his disposals more.
After going through the motions in the JLT, Seb returned to his best in our 1 point win. He collected 27 disposals (16k, 11h), 4 marks and 2 clearances. He was influcenical across the field, with 7 inside 50s and 5 rebounds 50s. The highlight of his game was an outstanding, clearances followed by a low bullet pass to Bruce who goaled.
A solid game for Seb this week, with 23 disposals (12k, 11h) at 73.9% efficiency. He impressed on the outside with 21 uncontested possessions, 2 marks and 4 inside 50s. Despite not laying a tackle in rd1, he came back strong with 6 tackles. While his numbers are down on last year, he is working well in a new, stronger midfield group.
A quiet day for Seb, finishing with 21 disposals (10k, 11h), 1 mark and 2 tackles. An even 12 contested and uncontested possession game for Seb, finishing with a disposal efficiency for 71.4. The real highlight of his game was a season and team high 8 clearances, showing a much greater inside presence than in previous weeks.
With Jarryn Geary a late out, Seb stepped up as Captain with an outstanding and dominant performance against the Hawks. Ross ended with 39 disposals (21k, 19h), two marks, four tackles and six clearances. His highlight for game was a confident goal from outside 50 in the second quarter to go with with eight score involvements. He continued his fantastic work on the outside with 4 running bounces, giving him with most in the competition with 14 for the season. His best afield performance was topped off by receiving the Silk-Miller Memorial Medal for the best Saints player on the field.