Weller ready to take his chance

MAVERICK Weller has pictured the moment in his mind ever since he arrived at Seaford, and this afternoon it will become reality.

The former Burnie Docker will finally make his St Kilda debut when the Saints face-off against the reigning premier Hawthorn at the MCG and he simply can't wait to get out there amongst it.

It will be the 33rd AFL outing for the 22-year-old, who was delisted from Gold Coast at the end of last year after requesting a trade, and he said he would be going in with an aggressive mindset against the big-bodied Hawthorn midfield, especially with wet conditions likely.

``The fact I've changed clubs and I went through some uncertain times makes it more special, but I'm just pumped for it,'' Weller told The Examiner yesterday.

``They haven't brought me in for any specific run-with role or anything like that, even though in the reserves I've been doing some defensive roles, but that has really been for my development as Alan [coach Alan Richardson] wanted to see if I could do it, and now I have that feather in my cap.

``I've just been brought in to be aggressive, as my tackling [he has laid 33 in four games for Sandringham in the VFL] and my clearance work have really been strong.

``Alan knows that's my strengths as a player, so when he picks me, he knows that is what he's going to get.

``I've always played like every game is my last as you never know if it is. I was in-and-out of the team at the Gold Coast, but I want to stay in this team and just play AFL footy.''

Weller has been relishing his second AFL chance, thankful for the opportunity to develop as a midfielder after feeling he was pigeon-holed as a half-back at the Suns.

``Having the rookie list thing over your head can be frustrating, but my whole time at St Kilda has been fantastic and I have loved every moment of it.

``They have given me every opportunity to improve my football. My role at my previous club was as a defensive-backman, but I'm a full-time midfielder here that can pinch hit down back and forward, so I have been able to develop my game a lot more in a position that really suits my strengths.''

But his elevation to the senior list does have a bittersweet element to it, as Weller is only where he is now due to injuries to teammates such as Sam Gilbert, Nathan Wright and fellow Burnie boy Eli Templeton. 

``It is really tough as you don't want to see any of your teammates get injured, but I've just gone about it without really seeking out the opportunity . . . just concentrating on what I can control.

``I can't control anyone getting elevated or being put on the injury list, as you can only just go out there and prove yourself with the footy and hope your name is going to be called out.''

One thing he can control is his own actions, and Weller, who was originally drafted to Gold Coast as a pre-draft selection 17-year-old, he admits his NAB Challenge suspension for striking Greater Western Sydney's Tomas Bugg may have cost him an earlier upgrading.

``It potentially did, as I then wasn't available for selection for round 1.

``I learnt my lesson from that as it was a selfish thing to do and I need to contain that side of things a bit more.

``I was down on myself a little bit, as I knew deep down it did cost me, but it has been motivation as well.

``I play my footy hard and pride myself on being aggressive and I needed to learn to control it a bit better and I did and I have.''

But back to today's match, Weller said limiting Hawthorn's speed would be key to his side causing an upset.

``They're the benchmark side and we've focused on their ball movement and we'll be going with a focus to slow them down and to be really aggressive with our counter-attack.''

Maverick Weller finally gets his chance to get  out on the ground for his new club St Kilda  when it takes on Hawthorn at the MCG today.

Maverick Weller finally gets his chance to get out on the ground for his new club St Kilda when it takes on Hawthorn at the MCG today.

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