Queensland’s first and only No.1 AFL draft pick, he is one of St.Kilda’s all-time greats at 26 and is destined for a place in the AFL Hall of Fame. Born in Tasmania, where his family is a football institution, he moved to the Gold Coast aged 10 but didn’t take up football seriously until age 13, preferring soccer in his youth. But he’s more than made up for lost time after graduating from the junior ranks at Broadbeach to play in Southport’s 2000 AFLQ premiership side aged 17 after he’d starred for Queensland at the 2000 Australian U18 Championships.
He was identified as the No.1 junior in the country when drafted by the Saints at No.1 in the 2000 AFL National Draft. Even before he’d played a game he was a champion in the making, lumbered with lofty expectation when described in the 2001 AFL Guide as “expected to be the future of St.Kilda”. After an injury-plagued first year which restricted him to just six AFL games he’s now totaled 158 games and kicked 320 goals to rank sixth on the Saints’ all-time goal-kicking list. He won the 2002-04-06-07 St.Kilda B&F to equal the record of dual Brownlow Medalist Robert Harvey and 1920’s star Bill Cubbins, and was set to beat it until surprisingly beaten for 2008 B&F honors by Sam Fisher.
Among other honors, he won the AFL Rising Star Award in 2002, was All-Australian in 2004-06-08, won the AFLPA MVP in 2004, was equal 7th in the Brownlow Medal in 2004, represented Australia in International Rules in 2004, was captain at 22 in 2005, co-captain in 2007 and sole captain in 2008. A member of St.Kilda’s 2004 Pre-Season Premiership side, he captained the NAB Cup champions in 2008. Twice he has kicked nine goals in a game – against Melbourne in round 15 2004 and Carlton in round 8 2006 – and three times he has topped 50 goals in a season – 67 in 2004, 60 in 2006 and 65 in 2008.
A key forward with the running power of a midfielder, he has been a standout performer on and off the field, establishing real celebrity status among the football capital of Melbourne without ever losing touch with friends, family and football at ‘home’. Was 2007’08 captain of the Queensland Team of the Year, instituted in 2007 and chosen on State of Origin guidelines.