Thomas said teammates Jamie Macmillan and Shaun Higgins, as well as line coaches Jarred Moore and Brendan Whitecross, were supporting him to bring his strengths to the table and take the game on.
“I’m being encouraged to use my flair. They are huge on that as well as to keep playing to my strengths and play my role,” Thomas said.
What that role evolves into remains to be seen with Thomas an obvious candidate to move into the midfield more often as he builds the assets he needs to flourish in that area having been used more as a forward in 2019.
“I’m hoping to build my tank and agility more in the pre-season,” Thomas said.
Thomas was one of four Kangaroos nominated for the Rising Star Award with Bailey Scott, Cam Zurhaar and Nick Larkey all receiving nominations for the accolade Carlton’s Sam Walsh won.
It was the largest crop of rising star nominees at the Kangaroos since the award started however, Scott was the club’s first since former North Melbourne midfielder Ryan Clarke in 2016.
Thomas, who played rugby league growing up in Sydney before taking up AFL when he moved to Launceston as a teenager, said he was also focused on strengthening his relationships with teammates on and off the field in the pre-season.
“I’m opening up and learning as I go. Building on relationships is the biggest thing and earning that trust from my teammates,” he said.
Thomas, who played in two TSL flags with North Launceston, kicked 16 goals in 2019 with only Port Adelaide’s Connor Rozee, Sydney’s Nick Blakey and Gold Coast’s Ben King managing more after being selected in the 2018 national draft.
Peter Ryan is a sports reporter with The Age covering AFL, horse racing and other sports.