JARRYN Geary didn't expect to spend his first season in St Kilda's leadership group watching the team play from the stands.
However he became determined to make the best of the situation when he learned he would miss most of the season after dislocating his elbow joint in round seven against Hawthorn.
The 26-year-old was able to give "immediate feedback" to his backline teammates during the breaks of games as he watched them from on high.
His role became all the more important when the back six was hit by injuries to Sam Fisher and Sam Gilbert, which meant young players had to fill holes.
For Geary, it not only gave him something to do while his right elbow mended – it helped him cope mentally with the thought of being out for so long.
"It was actually really good for me, because I felt like I was still a part of the group," he told AFL.com.au.
"I looked at it as a way I could provide leadership while watching the game and help them out that way.
"I was able to help the boys on game day with what I was able to see, especially the backmen that you can't usually see a lot of when you're on the ground.
"I could give them immediate feedback rather than wait until the end of the game or during the week when we watched the footage."
The Saints' leadership for 2015 will be finalised in the new year, again factoring in feedback and suggestions from the players using the Leading Teams model.
Geary is already hopeful he will get another opportunity to develop his leadership skills, this time on the field.
"The ideal result would be to get out there and play some games," he said.
"That's the thing about being a leader – you want to lead by example and if you're not out there you can't really do that.
"It would be nice to get out there and try and do that, and keep doing what I was doing off the field – helping the guys – and then leading with actions out there."
Geary's layoff was also made easier by the fact he had first-year forward Eli Templeton by his side the whole time.
Templeton broke his arm in round six against the Brisbane Lions in Wellington and had season-ending surgery when he came home.
"We did a lot of work together and formed a strong bond, which was good for both of us because we had someone to push each other every day," Geary said.
"It gets a bit monotonous if you're sitting there trying to run around an oval by yourself every second day.
"But we motivated each other and if I was having one of those days where things weren't going my way, he was there to push me along, and if he was having the same I'd be there to push him along."
The half-back returned for a game in the VFL by the end of the season but lasted only a half before breaking down with a calf complaint; his first-ever soft tissue injury.
The fresh injury robbed him of a chance to push for senior selection but gave him the time to get a head start on his pre-season, which started with a time trial victory early on.
"I gave myself a chance [to play seniors] but things just didn't work out the way they were supposed to," he said.
"Now I'm just looking forward to having a full pre-season and hopefully getting a full season in next year."