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US rookie Jason Holmes keen to get a start with St Kilda

Basketball convert Jason Holmes insists he will be ready to play senior football for St Kilda this season - should he get the call-up.

Holmes, an impressive US athlete given a two-year international rookie contract, says he has assimilated well into AFL life in terms of dedication and training expectations, but admits tactically he is still learning.

''I do all the training and running. I am a little behind as far as just being up there with the group but from when I came in, I am running with the boys. I am doing a bit extra to get in shape,'' he said.

''It [fitness] has got a lot better than a few months ago. We have started to get into tactical work, ball stoppages and ball use. I am just trying to pick up as much as I can as quick as I can.''

The 203-centimetre ruckman, a former basketballer from Chicago, initially attracted interest at last year's US combine in Los Angeles, with AFL scouts looking for talented big men.

''I just want to be ready. I want to help the team win. If they need me, I want to be ready to just help the team compete in the game. I am trying to be patient with myself and understand it's new. But, at the same time, I do expect myself to be ready soon. I set high standards for myself,'' he said.


Holmes, 23, said he had become close with teammates Arryn Siposs, Tom Lee and fellow ruckman Tom Hickey, while skipper Nick Riewoldt's professionalism, and interest in all things American, had been a standout.

Having also played American football as a youngster, Holmes, a left footer, said adjusting purely to the physical style required in the ruck had not been an issue. Neither was his jump, he posted a vertical leap of 97 centimetres - just four centimetres short of Nic Naitanui's record - at the AFL draft combine.

It was more the footwork and body positioning required, an area he will focus on with part-time Saints ruck coach Darren Jolly.

''We have started to pick it up a little bit since Christmas. It [ruck work] is a different intensity as far as physicality but it's not something I haven't done before - it's just learning the footwork,'' Holmes said.

Holmes will begin the season in the VFL, possibly in the reserves, but is confident he will be ready later in the campaign for a senior call-up as the Saints undergo what is expected to be a rebuilding phase.

''I am excited to get in the VFL because that's where I will start playing. You learn a lot when you are playing. But I think I have the ability to play senior footy, whenever they want me. I know I'll be ready, I want to be ready,'' he said.

Holmes' older brother Andre plays with NFL team Oakland Raiders. He already has a trip planned to Australia in the off-season.