THE chance to face the best ruckman in the league week in, week out is helping fast-track Rowan Marshall's progress as St Kilda's number one big man.
The 23-year-old, who has played 21 games since his debut in 2017, has featured predominately in the ruck in the eight matches he has played this AFL season since a pre-season role switch.
Marshall, who grew up in Portland, said on the club's podcast that the challenge of facing established big men each week was a key factor in his steep rise in 2019.
"I feel like there is a good ruckmen in every team and everyone is different. There are mobile ruckmen and then stronger ruckmen. Everyone has their strengths," the former forward said.
"I learnt a lot out off Brodie Grundy when I played him earlier on in the year and I sort of stuck with him for three quarters than he got away from me. It made me learn what you've to do to get to that level.
"He stepped it up when the game was on the line and that's something I'd like to do in the future. It was a good lesson in what those superstars can do and looking forward that's what I would like to be able to do."
Marshall, who has come up against premier ruckmen in Grundy, Melbourne's Max Gawn and GWS veteran Shane Mumford, said his favourite part of the week was catching up with assistant coaches Brendon Lade and Adam Skrobalak.
"Every Thursday I enjoy the challenge of sitting down and scoping out my opposition that week," he said.
"Those two put so much effort into figuring out what their strengths and weaknesses are.
"I sit down for 20 minutes to half an hour on how I can beat them and negate their strengths and then work on their weaknesses, which turn into my strengths.
"I enjoy the one-on-one challenge in the ruck every week and they help me out and have my back."
Marshall's parents - Mother Jan and father Don - are still his number one fans, travelling four hours to Melbourne to watch their son.
"They've been a huge influence on my footy career," Marshall said. "It's awesome to have someone that follows you that closely, no matter what.
"Even if you have a bad game, you always just come into the rooms afterwards and see your mum smiling, giving you a big hug and cheering you up.
"They're always happy no matter what. Everything I do is pretty much a bonus for them and my two younger brothers as well."
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