THE added responsibility of leadership is one that Thane Bardenhagen is relishing as the 22-year-old Western Storm midfielder steps up a gear in more ways than one.
``My year has been consistent, as I've had to take a step up in leadership and with my on-field performance as we've lost a bit of depth,'' said Bardenhagen, who is in his first season as a co-vice-captain.
``Being a co-vice-captain is still a learning experience as on-field you have to think about your own game and you also have to direct and instruct, and that's the hardest part from me is balancing that out on the field.''
The 2013 Matthew Richardson medallist's strong start to the year has been rewarded with selection in the 40-man squad for Tasmania's clash with the NEAFL, along with teammates Jay Blackberry, Mitchell Hills, Bart McCulloch, Matt Hanson, Will Hanson and Zane Brown.
``At the start of the year, people thought we would lose a lot of depth, and it just shows how many of us have been able to step up and take on a new role,'' said Bardenhagen, a member of South Launceston's premiership team last year who has also spent time at North Launceston and Lilydale.
``Seeing as it's only my second full year of TSL footy, to be in that squad is a great honour and it would be a great achievement to be in the team.''
The second-placed Western Storm faces third-placed Glenorchy at Aurora Stadium in a State League blockbuster at Aurora Stadium this afternoon.
``We just want to play our brand of football, which this year has seen a big focus on tackling and defensive pressure.
``But once we've done that we'll try to get on the spread and beat them on the fly as they are a bigger bodied team,'' Bardenhagen said.