ST KILDA young gun Jack Billings says opening contract talks with the Saints before the season gets underway isn't a priority, as he focuses on helping the club climb back up the ladder.
The 23-year-old will enter the final year of his contract in 2019 after signing a two-year deal in 2017.
Prolonged negotiations could prove a distraction for the young Saint, should it drag on well into next season, but it's a risk Billings is willing to take.
"To be honest I haven't really thought about it," Billings told AFL.com.au.
"As a player you try and look at what you can control, and that's trying to have the best pre-season that I can, so that is my focus.
"I love the club, and I hope I don't keep getting asked about the contract next year because it will get annoying."
Last week, St Kilda list manager James Gallagher told the Road to the Draft podcast the club was keen to lock away Billings on a long-term deal as the Saints continue to build a blueprint for future success.
Billings believes the Saints have the talent on paper, but he knows there is still a lot of hard work to be done if the club wants to win its second premiership.
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"We have a great young talented list at the club now," Billings said.
"They're all really keen and want to make their mark. Obviously after the season we had this year, everyone is pretty hungry for success.
"But what we learned as a club this year is that there are no guarantees. Even though we have young talented players, it doesn't mean success is going to happen straight away. We need to work hard and I'm really looking forward to working with all the boys and improving as a club."
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The Saints recruited experienced midfielder Dan Hannebery from the Swans during the NAB AFL Trade Period.
His arrival at the club prompted speculation Billings could be put on the trade table.
Those whispers reached the ears of Billings, but the youngster was confident he wasn't going anywhere.
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"I didn't worry about [the rumours]," he said.
"That time of year, there's not much to talk about so rumours get thrown around. I know what is in my control, so it doesn't really bother me. I literally didn't even speak to anyone about it at the club, so from my end it was all good."
As for his own football going forward, Billings is keen to spend more time in the midfield in 2019.
He is working towards a 50-50 split between playing up forward, and pushing into the middle, and is hopeful new assistant coach Brett Ratten can help improve his game.
"I'm pretty excited that Brett's come to the club" he said.
"He's going to be the forwards coach so I'll still be working with him a fair bit. Hopefully I can develop a strong relationship with him and improve my game and challenge myself at the same time.
"At the end of the day I've got to perform if I want to play in the midfield but I do feel like I do have the attributes to help out there. I feel like I have a lot to add, I just need to work really hard."