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Team first for Melbourne as Melksham looks forward

By the time the internal hit-out at the MCG last Sunday was over, he could even see the positives in the interruption.

“It has given us another week to iron out any creases we have in our game plan at the moment,” Melksham said.

“We got an extra week to look at what we were doing and we started planning for Geelong on the Sunday, so in that match practice we had a good chunk of time to prepare for the way they like to play and work on things we would like to do in that game. If anything it has been a benefit for us.”

Those creases were evident in an inconsistent round two effort when they nearly lost to Carlton after leading by 42 points, and Melksham understood how such a performance led to external trepidation.

But he can sense a shift occurring, as conditioning coach Darren Burgess has the Demons much fitter than they were heading into 2019.

The Demons focused on team bonding during pre-season.

The Demons focused on team bonding during pre-season. Credit:AAP

More than that, making a team-first approach part of the ethos at the Demons has been prioritised as they attempt to build connection and trust in uncertain times.

It existed during the pre-season but went to another level during the shutdown when disparate training pairs logged on to Zoom and got on the beers with other teammates to reflect on the week that had passed.

It’s being reinforced since the return to training as each individual is asked to spend more time thinking about others rather than themselves.

“We have spoken about it. We had to move away from that as a club, focusing on a forward kicking a bag each week, or as a midfielder having your 30 touches and thinking about how you played straight after the game, as opposed to how you can be the best teammate, how you can help others, how you can be humble and a valued Melbourne person,” Melksham said.

“Their drive is changing to be about team and no longer about yourself and if the leaders get that done it will start a trickle effect through the club.”

Internally they say you don’t have to “touch the nurry” as much to play your role. In the second half against Carlton, however, too many adopted the philosophy and it nearly cost them the win.

“We weren’t overly happy with our performance but we won one and we’re away,” Melksham said.

With training in groups restricted building a seamless connection is going to take time but the Demons have adopted a positive outlook. “We feel that the more cohesive each line group can be with each other the more structure and cohesion they will have on the field with each other,” he said.

Melksham is an underrated forward. Last year he battled injury and kicked 15 goals in 12 games , having booted 32 goals the year before. Former teammates say he is the key to Melbourne’s forward line working well, but you would never hear the well-spoken 28-year-old say that.


He’s all about being a cog in a cohesive unit. “The club and players are trying to build a team that is going to play a lot of footy together,” Melksham said.

“We feel that if we can get our game going the way that we want and players performing individually the way that we want then we will be able to put the same team out on the park each week with minimal changes.”

They are not there yet with seven changes between rounds one and two, and five changes between rounds two and four. But Melksham feels every step is forward as the group matures, with Sunday’s game against the Cats expected to provide everyone with a better idea of where the Demons sit in 2020.

“Getting Geelong off a loss is definitely a challenge but regardless of that they are a quality team and it is going to be a fair challenge,” Melksham said.

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