IT'S been a whirlwind journey that has taken in no less than five state capitals, two stints in quarantine and three different competitions.
But after signing a two year deal with St Kilda, Leeton product Cooper Sharman is confident a full summer at the Saints will ensure he takes the next step after a fine start to his AFL career.
The 21-year-old started the year playing reserve grade SANFL and doing some part-time bookkeeping to pay the bills.
But after being picked up in the mid-season draft, the forward grabbed his chance with ten goals in effectively three-and-a-half games after an injury to Dougal Howard allowed him to make his on-field debut as a medical sub against Carlton.
He capped a dream month with four goals in their last-round win over St Kilda, and he now has his sights set on helping the team break their finals drought next year.
Sharman said a reassurance from the club he would be hanging around long term took the pressure off and helped him focus on football.
"The list manager gave me an indication after my second or third game that I'd have a deal in the next few weeks," Sharman said.
"That gave me a lot of confidence to let me go about my footy and not worry about contracts, I was just able to play with no weight on my mind really.
"Kicking those four goals made me feel like I can hold my own, and I belong at the level. It was awesome to finish off the year with a win, even though we finished just out of finals.
"My VFL games probably weren't as good as my AFL ones, which was a bit odd. I wasn't really doing anything special to press my case, but to then get in the side for the rest of the year and sign that deal just topped it right off."
It's been a hectic period for Sharman, who joined the team in a Sydney hub after he was first drafted, before heading to Perth to quarantine for a week.
He was the medical sub against West Coast but didn't get any game time, before he was given the chance to have an impact with two goals against the Blues the following week in Melbourne.
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His jetsetting across the country finished with a fly-in, fly-out dash to Hobart for the Fremantle clash, and he is now quarantining in Adelaide before moving his belongings to Melbourne.
"Being able to train full-time with the team over pre-season will be massive," he said.
"I haven't really had a full pre season for at least two years. if I can get a full pre season of running and into the gym as well, that will help me take the game to the next level.
"Those few games I played I was pretty buggered by the end of it, and didn't really run out the full game. Hopefully I'll get a bigger tank over summer and it will hold me in good stead.
"Early on we had some big losses which set us back, but we beat some good teams like Brisbane and Richmond and got within a few points of Geelong.
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