St Kilda midfielder Jack Steele has only come to terms in the past few days with the fact the AFL season has halted.
In the whirlwind of events in which the season was postponed less than an hour after the Saints' two-point loss to North Melbourne at Marvel Stadium a couple of Sundays ago, the 24 year old's head was all over the place.
He went to a meeting at Moorabbin where coach Brett Ratten gave the players an emotional send-off, then he arranged to move back to live with his parents, Stuart and Joanne, and his sister Sophie in Canberra, rather than isolate at home on his own.
Jack Steele, left, with Saints coach Brett Ratten, right, last season. Credit:AAP
"A lot of us couldn't really fathom what was going on. It seemed so surreal and it definitely didn't help with losing when we pretty much had the game in the bag," Steele said.
"All of the sudden you walk off the ground devastated and you hear the season is done for now."
"For now" is the crucial part of that sentence because the Saints' season is not done just yet.
They looked good against the Kangaroos, until they didn't, conceding six of the last seven goals to squander a 31-point lead on a low-scoring match.
Steele, who is generally good natured but as competitive as anyone, says he was "pissed off" for days after the Kangaroos' midfield – led by the ever reliable Ben Cunnington – gained the ascendancy in the second half.
Steele was one of the Saints' best, kicking a goal and showing he is ready to take another step forward in his promising career, but he wasn't feeling satisfied.
"At the end of the day we had the game in the bag. We have to learn how to ice it," Steele said.
He is sure their inability to do so was a function of having so many new players in the team after the Saints spent their off-season bolstering their depth and talent. He predicts rapid improvement in time.
Being around family has also helped Steele put the loss in perspective as he sees the impact the coronavirus pandemic is having around the world and on his immediate family.
Ferocious: Jack Steele in action during round seven last year. Credit:AAP
Driving from Canberra to Newcastle on Wednesday to help his sister move, so she can start work as a midwife next week, having graduated with a Bachelor of Midwifery at the University of Canberra, was a quick lesson in the new way the world is operating.
"She has got a job at John Hunter Hospital so she is going up there. She is nervous but in a way it will be a good distraction if she can just get to work and have something to do during the day," Steele said.
It was a good diversion for Steele, too, who had been filling his days playing golf at Gold Creek Golf Club – until the course was shut down – and a reminder that as an AFL footballer in the middle of a temporary break he is not in a bad position.
"A lot of people aren't getting paid at all so it is a good way to look at it and a good perspective to have," Steele said.
Not that Steele has been anything other than aware of his surroundings, a popular player at Moorabbin, who is as admired for his down-to-earth nature as his ferocious attack on the football.
For now he is enjoying being alongside his family in Canberra, a place he enjoys, even if he is restricted in what he can do.
"It's dead at the best of times," Steele joked. "It's actually not too bad, I actually love it."
He also loves playing football for the Saints and can't wait for the chance to reset and re-start their season so the club's long suffering fans can have something to cheer about.
Steele knows that as bad as two-point losses are, they aren't the end of the world, his message to Saints' fans as uncomplicated as his kicking action.
"I hope they are all well," Steele said.
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