Arryn Siposs: Learning trade from new, old masters

From a distance, Arryn Siposs looks a little like Aaron Hamill, the man whose St Kilda guernsey he now wears.

From up close, he has watched Nick Riewoldt make every moment of every day matter, running everyone around him off their feet, and realised he wants to do that too. Should everything go to plan, Siposs will spend as many years in the Saints’ side as they have.

But growing up, he had other ideas. ”I wanted to be like Jason Cripps,” said Siposs, who met the oft-injured defender at a school clinic. ”He was the first favourite player I had. He said ‘hello’ to me, and I thought, how awesome is this?”

Plenty of people have helped Siposs make his 12-game start for St Kilda, and he has tried to carry little pieces of each of them with him. His first club-appointed mentor, Stephen Milne, made him feel relaxed around the club and as if he could fit in there. Riewoldt and Justin Koschitzke have kept a close eye on him – just as he has watched everything that they do.

His forward line coach, Adam Kingsley, has taught him about leading patterns, defensive pressure and everything in between. And when senior coach Scott Watters left him out of the side for the first month of the season, despite playing him in all the pre-season games, Siposs felt clear on what he had to do: learn not only how to apply pressure, but how to really want to.

”It’s not just chasing guys and trying to make sure you look good, or to pretend that you’re trying,” said this week’s Rising Star nominee. ”There’s a whole lot of things that go into it: where you’re positioned; who you’re on; communication. Part of it’s physical but a lot of it’s mental, whether you really want to go and do it. It’s hard to explain how you can improve it, but I guess it’s like anything, the more you focus on it, the more naturally it starts to come.”

Hamill, too, has been a big influence. Siposs’ long, accurate kicks were one of the things that got him his first five-game chance in the senior side last year and he hopes his versatility will help keep him there. Watters has told him he wants him to play as a marking forward, around the midfield and possibly even off the half-back flank. He would love to be as vigorous a player as Hamill – his part-time forwards coach – was, and is accepting all the advice he can from him.

”He’s about 95 kilos, so he’s a beast. He was such a strong, physical player,” Siposs says of Hamill. ”He wasn’t super tall but his pressure and hardness were amazing, and if there’s anything he’s really helped me with it’s that. Contested footy, one-on-one contests and obviously the tackling and pressure.”

Siposs, 19, knows he wasn’t really ready to play his five games last year, coming off a minimal first pre-season. Those matches were exciting, fun, a chance to run around. Leading into this season, he was about six kilograms heavier, and a couple of centimetres taller. He knew he was playing far better than he had been 12 months earlier, and with more consistency. Not making the round-one side was frustrating, but he’s not sorry now that it happened that way.

”Those games last year have definitely helped. I think I was nervous for all five of them, but it just felt awesome to be out there,” he said.

”I still tried to play my role for the team and things like that, but mostly it was all just so awesome. This year I feel a lot more focused on what I’ve got to do for the team and I understand better how to do that and keep my spot. I felt like I was playing far more consistent footy at the start of this year, even though I wasn’t in the squad.

”I was frustrated early because I felt like I was playing all right footy, but at the same time I knew I had to take that advice from Scott and drive myself to force my way back in. I knew what I had to do, and I knew that I had to work hard at it.”

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