MELBOURNE recruit Shannon Byrnes has been invigorated by his move from Geelong and the role he is playing within the young group.
The speedy goal-sneak is receiving rave reviews for his input into meetings, particularly from his fellow forwards, and he admits he didn't realise how much he had learned about football at Geelong until he moved into a new environment.
With so many leaders surrounding him at the Cats, Byrnes could afford to sit back a little and let others do the talking. He knew his role and as long as he performed it well, everyone was happy. However at Melbourne more is required and he is enjoying the chance to move out of his comfort zone and increase the level of his contribution.
"I sort of have to train myself to speak a bit more, which I have been making a constant effort of doing in the forwardline meetings," Byrnes said.
His input has been noticed.
Mitch Clark calls Byrnes "his little mate" and says his ideas are making the forwards think a little differently while Jeremy Howe says Byrnes' presence is making a significant difference. "He pipes up in meetings and gives his little bit all the time," Howe said. "The guys respect him, particularly where he has come from and the environment there."
Byrnes played in 108 games and two premierships in nine seasons at Geelong. He saw the club's stars develop from promising youngsters into champions of the game. While he does not make any comparison to Geelong he speaks positively about his new teammates at the Demons.
"[They're] just an enthusiastic bunch of blokes that are just excited about where the club is going more so than where it has been," Byrnes said. "I think last year was a big step up from where they have come from in their attitude towards training and I think this year they are starting to reap some of the benefits from what they started last year."
After playing nine senior games in the past two seasons Byrnes must be excited about the opportunity that lies ahead for him personally, but it is the development of a team and winning culture that is his main focus. The words about his fellow forwards demonstrate why his value to the club will go way beyond what he does on the field.
"I love the forwardline group," Byrnes said. "There is a bit of brotherhood down there. You have got to love the blokes that you play with. It makes you a better side and makes you enjoy playing a lot more if you have a strong bond with the guys you spend most of the time out on the ground."
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