“I can only speak for myself personally. He was obviously a strong component in getting some of the guys in our team through the door [that remain] today,” Ross said.
“He was great for my career. He was there for the crux of my career when I was really starting to develop and become a consistent player.
“I attribute a lot of that to him, the sort of licence he gave me on game day and the backing and the positive attitude and belief he instilled in me.
“It’s a funny thing when the coaches change role and then things start to happen. I am sure Ratts would say the same thing, Ratts hasn’t just been the guy that’s come in and changed absolutely everything and made us where we are today.
“He has also played a massive part in it and absolutely love having him but there’s guys that come before him like Richo, and there was other guys that were here last year, even players, that have helped everyone become better.”
Another who came before was his good mate Jack Newnes. He was delisted after rejecting a two-year deal to remain a Saint and is now at Carlton.
“He was here through a lot of tough times and he was one of our consistent performers through them,” Ross said.
“A couple years in a row down the bottom and he was playing consistent footy and driving training standards and those sort of things.
“There’s a lot of guys that have played that sort of role over this part of time.”
Ross is cognisant of long-suffering Saints fans in Victoria too, who have missed the joy of watching their resurgent team in the flesh.
“That was pretty cool as a player [seeing what making finals meant to fans post-GWS win]. Life can go by you pretty fast, particularly with condensed timing between games, to see how much it means to a lot of people was awesome,” he said.
He’s also aware of just how transformative 2020 recruits, and 2019 recruit Dan Hannebery, have been for the group. All brought finals experience.
“As soon as they walked in the door we learnt a lot from those guys,” Ross said.
Their arrival and tweaks to the game plan have left less of the team’s burden on the shoulders of few players, including him.
“There’s nowhere near as much reliance on certain players to play well to win games,” he said.
“I think what’s been a really strong part of our year this year – other than guys like Steeley [Jack Steele] and Buts [Dan Butler] who have played like absolute stars – the other 20 blokes have been great at playing their role to get the job done.
“That has been a little bit of an adjustment for me having just finished my ninth season.
“We had to take time to gel as a group but that got fast-tracked living on top of one another.”
Anthony is a sports reporter at The Age.