BEN LONG learned what he was capable of on Saturday.
With his Saints staging a comeback against Greater Western Sydney and still 12 points down, Long found himself with the ball inside 50 but riding the boundary.
The 20-year-old lined up for what would have been a difficult set shot but instead faked the Giant on the mark, ducked around him and snapped a brilliant goal.
It was the sort of dare, confidence and execution of a player who feels comfortable at the highest level, a moment capped by his round five NAB AFL Rising Star nomination.
It is St Kilda's first nomination since round 14, 2016.
WHO'S IN THE RUNNING? 2018's NAB AFL Star nominees so far
St Kilda had to settle for a draw on Saturday, but Long had one of the finest displays of his nine-game career with 15 disposals (nine contested) at 93 per cent efficiency, eight tackles and that goal.
WATCH: Long wheels around and hurts the Giants
The performance followed the former Northern Territory under-18 captain's career-high 18-possession effort a week earlier against Geelong.
Long, who hails from Darwin's famous St Mary's football factory, followed in his cousin Cyril Rioli's footsteps in attending a Victorian private school, although Melbourne Grammar rather than Scotch College.
He is also the nephew of Essendon's dual premiership player and 1993 Norm Smith medallist Michael Long, while Eagle Willie Rioli is another uncle.
But genetics are only one piece of the puzzle, with Long having to deal with the disappointment of being surprisingly overlooked at the 2015 draft.
His life trajectory changed in a hurry the following season and in one match in particular, where he slotted six goals – including five in the second half – in a VFL preliminary final for Footscray.
Long played in a premiership a week later and soon after became the first NT footballer taken in the NAB AFL Draft at No.25, one selection ahead of his close friend Brandan Parfitt.
HE'S TOUGH, WINS A GOOD GROUND BALL How the Saints rated Long at draft time
He has impressed those that matter at the Saints since arriving, playing four games in his debut season and quickly re-signing in June last year until 2019.