JOSH Bruce got off to an auspicious start with St Kilda.
A foundation player with Greater Western Sydney, he moved to the Saints at the end of 2013 because of the security offered by a three-year deal. The Giants were brimming with elite young talent and offered only a two-year arrangement.
Bruce had been on the radar of St Kilda list manager Ameet Bains for some time. When they first met, then-Saints coach Scott Watters was also there.
In an interview in this week's AFL Record, Bruce, 23, recalls the uncertainty of walking into a new club when one of your key recruiters is no longer there. Following the end of the 2013 trade period, Watters was replaced as coach by Alan Richardson.
"It was unusual because he had said certain things to me in that meeting," Bruce says.
"I was given certain assurances but by the same token nothing was guaranteed. It was the same whether he was here or not; I had to work hard to earn the respect of the coach, whoever that was, and of the players as well.
"You've got to earn your stripes. That's one thing I quickly learned."
Bruce quickly won over his new coach with his appetite for learning and for hard work. He started last season in the backline, which is where he had played for the Giants, but moved to the forward line late last season. He thrived from the start given he was a standout key forward growing up in Canberra and working his way through the NSW-ACT pathway.
This year he is flying, with 29 goals from 11 games to be equal sixth on the goalkicking table. He is part of a Saints forward line that is working well and is building nicely for the time – whenever that may be – that champion spearhead Nick Riewoldt no longer plays.
Read the full Josh Bruce feature in the round 13 edition of the AFL Record, which is available at all grounds.