JAMES Aish says having a mix of older heads and young blood around the Brisbane Lions has helped him adapt to AFL quicker than he thought.
Aish collected 25 disposals and snapped a goal in the Lions' first win of the season, a gripping three-point triumph
, resulting in the midfielder being named the round six NAB AFL Rising Star nominee.
Aish collected 12 contested possessions and relished answering some of his critics against the Saints.
Aish collected 12 contested possessions against the Saints, and relished answering critics who believed he was more an outside player than inside.
But the composed 18-year-old South Australian was quick to highlight the help he's received from many sources around his new club.
He was quick to praise Brownlow medallist and current Lions assistant coach Simon Black for being his mentor.
Aish said being one of seven new draftees had also helped him settle, as had living with teammates Daniel Rich, Rohan Bewick and Lewis Taylor.
"I've settled in really well, and with all the other young guys playing that's helped as well, we get through it together," he said.
"It's not quite as intimidating walking into a club. We had half a dozen others coming in as well. You do look out for each other a bit I guess and ride each other with the success and help each other."
It was a promising performance from last year's No.7 NAB AFL Draft pick, who admitted it annoyed him to be pigeonholed as an outside player.
"It did a little bit, just because I knew I wasn't. I just haven't had an opportunity to do otherwise," Aish told AFL.com.au on Monday.
"The club is really supportive of me and I think they're happy with me playing inside a bit more and I'm improving that aspect of my game.
"Like all the young boys, every week you're adjusting to the game a bit more and feeling a little bit more comfortable."
Aish said he was happy with his game against the Saints.
"I was a bit more pleased with my game this week - I thought I was able to have a bit more impact, which was great," Aish said.
"The second half I was around the ball a bit more and that gave me a bit more opportunity."
It should come as no surprise that the 182cm onballer is quickly finding his feet at AFL level.
Aish couldn't have asked for better preparation than playing in two senior SANFL flags as a 16 and 17-year-old at Norwood – the club where his father, uncle and grandfather created a lasting legacy.
"I was pretty lucky that I was able to play with a lot of AFL-listed players through those two years," Aish said.
"Just being able to learn off them and see the way they train and play is one positive.
"But just playing against bigger bodies and listed players as well definitely made the transition a bit easier for me."
Aish has played every game this year and is part of the new pride of Lions being groomed by first-year coach Justin Leppitsch, as the former power club rebuilds.
It's expected to be a bumpy climb up the ladder for the Lions but he believes in the club's direction and is happy in Brisbane.
"When you start 0-5 there's going to be a bit of negative criticism out there, but we're playing a lot of younger kids – there would have been at least five of us under 10 games and another young bunch as well," Aish said.
"There's going to be ups-and-downs along the way…but we've showed signs we're heading in a good direction."
Aish becomes the first Lion since fellow South Australian Sam Mayes (round 12, 2013) to earn a Rising Star nomination.