An open and honest Steven May has admitted the jump in fitness required to play in Melbourne’s system as compared to Gold Coast’s caught him completely off guard.
The high profile defender made the jump to the Demons this season, but has been plagued by injuries. He is currently on the sidelines with a second hamstring issue.
This all stems back to the pre-season where he came back underdone and not at the standard required.
May said playing a different role at the Dees exposed a fitness level that had been acceptable at the Suns.
“I’ve learned a lot. (Melbourne coach) Simon Goodwin taught me a lot about being a professional,” he told AFL Nation.
“I’d been playing for eight years at the Suns and I thought I was doing everything right. I hadn’t missed many games. The only time I’d missed games was through suspension not through injuries.
“To come here and the role they want me to play, it requires a lot more out of me and as I was trying to get fit and trying to do that sort of stuff, my body just couldn’t really keep up with the demands.
“I sort of was probably blaming other people, but Goodwin sat me down and hit me between the eyes and said it’s my fault and I’ve got to get myself out of it.
“Probably the most frustrating point is I’ve got myself really fit and the best position I’ve been in and then I do a hammy, and then I do another one and I’m like, why is this happening to me when I finally am in a great position?
“I think when you’re playing catch-up all year, something has to give.”
May explained what specifically about the change in role led to him needing greater fitness.
“At the Suns I was sort of a lockdown full back and played one-on-one. At the Dees we like to play team defence, we want to play forward half footy,” he said.
“That requires me getting well out of the back 50 and playing right up and trying to have shots on goal.
“To have the fitness to be able to do that, but then also be able to lock down my man, it’s a subtle change and doesn’t sound like much, but when you’re spending your tickets running offensively and defensively, most of my career I spent probably 80 per cent worried about defence and 20 per cent offense.
“Whereas now they want me part of the offense, running up and getting handball receives and it just changes your workload.
“I think to take my game to the next level, it would not only be to lock down my opponent, but get involved and be a bit potent the other way and to do that you need to be a lot fitter.”
The 27-year-old already has a number of plans in place for the off-season to make sure he’s in prime condition for 2020.
“As you could probably imagine there’s already been some planning gone on this week,” May said.
“More on my end, I went in and saw the rehab coaches and said my break looks like this, when do you want me in? Who can I see?
“I’ve got a new Pilates coach booked in for the off-season, I’ve got some yoga stuff and some cross-training stuff which is not going to help my skinfolds, but it’s going to strengthen my groins and my hamstrings.
“Then we have (new high performance director) Darren Burgess coming in who’s known for being a fitness freak and I’ve had a little chat with him and he’s got no worries with me. He reckons he’s got a great plan for me so I’m just excited.
“A lot of guys are looking forward to the break, but I haven’t played a lot so I want to keep going. I can’t wait for next season really.”
May played eight games in his first season with the Dees, averaging 15 disposals and four marks.