ROWAN Marshall is a handy weapon in St Kilda's arsenal as it continues to hunt for a drought-breaking premiership, according to his former talent manager Phil Partington.
The 24-year-old Portland export will play his 50th game for the Saints this weekend when they play Greater Western Sydney.
Marshall was overlooked in two drafts before St Kilda took a punt on the former North Ballarat Roosters ruck with their first selection in the 2016 rookie draft.
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He played 13 AFL games (one and 12) in his first two season before 20 and 16 in the past two years.
The Portland export was labelled a potential AFL pick but once overlooked then deemed too inexperienced to command a starting VFL ruck spot.
Partington said Marshall, who was his trainee during his final year at the Greater Western Victoria Rebels as a 19-year-old, was repaying the Saints' faith.
"He has always had AFL attributes," he told The Standard ahead of Marshall's first AFL milestone match.
"He was playing good footy and just waiting for an opportunity. St Kilda spoke to us when he was 18 and then again when he was 19 and followed his progress closely.
"They knew ruckmen take a lot more time to develop and you can see the way he is playing now he is very competitive, can go forward and take marks and that's big business in today's game.
"He is a bit like a smiling assassin. He is a very warm, gentle human being but he has also got a bit of aggression about him.
"He is a little undersized for the main ruck but then his competitiveness comes to the fore."
He signed with the Roosters for the 2015 season but found himself stuck at Ballarat league club Sebastopol for all bar five games.
The Burras pit stop was a detour for the then 20-year-old, which he believed help elevate his game and again thrust his name under AFL recruiters' noses.
Marshall won the Burras' best and fairest and arrived at Roosters' pre-season training ready to slot into their best 22 that season.
He did just that, playing every game under first-year coach Marc Greig, who is now the Greater Western Victoria Rebels coach.
Marshall has evolved into one of St Kilda's most important players and a runner-up in its best and fairest.
Over his last 49 games he averages 15 disposals, 19 hit outs, three clearances and four marks a game.
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