NAB Rising Star winner Daniel Talia won't dwell long on yesterday's award as the Adelaide defender prepares for the threat of Sydney's powerful attack in Saturday's qualifying final at AAMI Stadium.
Talia, who polled 43 votes to beat Greater Western Sydney's Jeremy Cameron by eight, said that while he was humbled by the award, he would not be distracted.
He and teammate Sam Shaw's trip to Melbourne yesterday forced them to miss an important training session, and Talia said coach Brenton Sanderson had instructed them to keep their week "as normal as possible".
"I really can't wait to experience September at the highest level and play on some really good players," he said.
"The season just leads to September and what you do in September actually counts .... there is a big prize for winning and this week's game is going to be huge for the club.
"(But) I'll be putting the year that I've had behind me and really focusing on the next four weeks because, I suppose, that's crunch time and you've got to perform.
"I just believe in myself, I never doubt myself, and when you're playing on a big-name player you've just got to have confidence that you're going to be able to beat him.
"That's what I try and take into every game and I don't believe that I'm going to get beaten when I go out there."
Talia, 20, is the first Adelaide player to win the award. A graduate from the Calder Cannons, he was the Crows' first-round selection at No.13 in the 2009 draft.
He managed eight games in his injury-interrupted 2011 and was thrust to prominence this season in the wake of the departures to Gold Coast and Greater Western Sydney of Nathan Bock and Phil Davis.
His admission yesterday that he suffered nerves before every match belied his record at stopping some of the competition's best forwards.
But he has had some good advice along the way - dual Geelong premiership defender Darren Milburn is Talia's line coach at Adelaide and he plays alongside veteran Ben Rutten.
Milburn said that Rutten's presence had seen him resist using his former Cats teammate Matthew Scarlett as a role model and he was cautious about comparisons between the pair.
"I think Scarlo's got more of an all-round game at the moment, while Tals is more defensive and developing that side of his game," Milburn said.
"But he's got a pretty good role model at the club at the moment and obviously Ben Rutten has been around a while and been a very good full-back in the competition.
"Obviously if he turned out like Matthew Scarlett we'd have a champion of the game, but I don't want to compare them at the moment."
Talia described Milburn's influence on him as "massive".
"Dasher (Milburn) played down back as well and knows what it's like to play in September," he said.
"He's worked on little areas of my game that I probably didn't work as hard on last year."Talia said the keynote speaker at yesterday's function, St Kilda captain Nick Riewoldt, had been his idol in his junior years. His performance against Riewoldt in the round-12 win over the Saints earned a Rising Star nomination.
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