LESS than a year ago, Maverick Weller was sleeping on his manager's couch and wondering whether he had an AFL future.
At the time, Weller had recently been delisted by Gold Coast after 32 games in three seasons.
But since being thrown a lifeline by St Kilda in last December's rookie draft, Weller has made the most of his second chance.
Playing 16 games in his first season at Seaford – he did not miss a match after making his debut in round seven against Hawthorn – Weller finished ninth in the Saints' best and fairest award.
The 22-year-old Tasmanian was deservedly rewarded this week with a two-year contract extension that ties him to St Kilda to the end of 2016.
Maverick recalled the uncertain times after his delisting by the Suns when he spoke with AFL.com.au on Wednesday.
Overlooked in last year's trade and delisted free agency periods, Weller accepted an invitation to train with St Kilda in the lead-up to the NAB AFL Draft.
Moving in temporarily with his manager, Tim Hazell, Weller spent four weeks training with the Saints without any guarantee he would be signed by the club.
Already noted for his dedication to training, Weller worked harder than ever before.
Still, he was overlooked by the Saints and every other club in the national draft, before St Kilda took him with pick No. 20 in the rookie draft.
Weller said being temporarily without a football home was tough, but he believed his time in the AFL had yet to end.
"I was pretty confident that I'd get an opportunity somewhere and I really wanted to get down to the Saints. They've just been fantastic since we started talking to them last year," Weller said.
"Timmy (Hazell) has just been fantastic from day dot.
"I was sleeping on his couch for three weeks and he didn't blink an eyelid. He was just so supportive and he's been a massive part in the whole journey from then.
"Re-signing for two years just gives me a bit of security now and I love the Saints and I'm happy to stay put."
Weller put in a "massive" pre-season ahead of his debut season with the Saints and was in contention for senior elevation ahead of round one.
But his push stalled when he was suspended for one match for striking Greater Western Sydney's Tomas Bugg in the Saints' final pre-season match.
On his return, he spent four weeks in the VFL with the Saints' affiliate Sandringham before earning a call-up for St Kilda's round seven clash against the Hawks.
That game was a brutal one for the Saints as the Hawks mercilessly inflicted a 145-point loss, but Weller's solid 16-possession debut was one small positive.
The former Sun barely put a foot wrong after that, carving a niche for himself as a run-with midfielder, with his opponents including Brownlow medallist Matt Priddis, Nathan Fyfe, Patrick Dangerfield and Joel Selwood.
Weller was satisfied with his first season with the Saints, saying he had been pleased with his consistency and his adjustment to tagging.
He played most of his football in defence with Gold Coast, but spent nearly all of his time in the midfield as a junior.
"It was quite an easy transition for me to play tagging roles. I'm a natural midfielder so I felt more at home being able to [play a defensive role] in the midfield," he said.
Weller's re-signing follows the Saints' recent 'Future Fest' campaign, when 19 young players including Jack Billings, Jack Newnes, Luke Dunstan, Blake Acres, Seb Ross and Billy Longer agreed to new deals with the club.
Despite the Saints' wooden spoon finish to 2014, Weller is confident the club's future is bright under coach Alan Richardson.
"We've got a lot of work to do, there's no hiding that," he says.
"But all of the boys are prepared to put the work in over this summer and we're going to be taking steps forward.
"We just want to keep improving and we understand that there's no guarantee that you'll simply just improve with age. It's all about putting in a lot of hard work.
"But we've got some exciting youngsters coming through and if we do the work we should have some exciting times ahead."