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Pedersen's stunning form reversal

Ben Guthrie  June 9, 2014 1:05 PM

AFL 2014 Rd 09 - Richmond v Melbourne

Cameron Pedersen of Melbourne celebrates a goal during the 2014 AFL Round 09 match between the Richmond Tigers and the Melbourne Demons at the MCG, Melbourne on May 17, 2014. (Photo: Darrian Traynor/AFL Media)

CAM PEDERSEN was told at the end of last season his career was all but over, with Melbourne far from happy with what he had produced in his first year.

Called in for his end-of-year review with coaches and members of the recruiting team, Pedersen was told how disappointed the club had been with his output.

The tall utility played just 10 games in his first season, after being traded from North Melbourne for Jordan Gysberts and pick No. 61 (Taylor Hine) in the 2012 trade period.

"They said if I didn't pick up my game this year, even though I had a three-year deal, I wouldn't be here [in 2015]," Pedersen told AFL.com.au.

"They felt they'd been dudded.

"They told me they weren't fussed if I was here or not and said my destiny was in my own hands."

The brutal assessment stung Pedersen into action, and he responded positively. 
 

Halfway into his second year at the club, Pedersen has made a significant improvement and is a key player in Paul Roos' new-look lineup.

With Chris Dawes, Jesse Hogan and Mitch Clark sidelined at the start of the season, Pedersen has made the most of his opportunity, with strong performances as a key forward/back-up ruckman.

Already he has kicked more goals (seven), gathered more disposals (137) and laid more tackles (37) than he achieved in 10 games last year.
 

By comparison, last season's efforts of five goals, 135 touches and 23 tackles did not meet the standards expected.

The 27-year-old played his best game for the Demons in round nine against Richmond when he collected 16 disposals, hauled in eight marks and kicked two goals, to go along with a team-high eight tackles.

Pedersen followed that up with an impressive performance against Port Adelaide last weekend in Alice Springs, nabbing two goals from 16 touches.

In his post-season review, he was told he needed to lift his intensity and not be as prone to patches where he lost concentration.

As Pedersen put it, not to drop marks when in the clear or to put in token chases just because he was tired.

One of those lapses got him into strife last year.

Pedersen's marking attempt against Port Adelaide in round one last season saw him condemned by commentators and supporters.

Being told he "ducked his head" or "squibbed the contest" hurt his pride, but he accepts his effort wasn't good enough.

"I don't shy away from it," he said.

"I spoiled double-hand when I should've marked it, and it all got blown up.

"The boys were good about it and it gets forgotten if you work hard."

That's exactly what Pedersen has done.

"Cam is a great example of a player knowing and playing his role. He has been working very hard on his game and is gaining confidence each week," Demons football manager Josh Mahoney said.

With two young kids – Charlee and Ruby – and wife Sarah to support, Pedersen understands the urgency of his situation.

When he was on a rookie contract at North, he took an overnight shift stacking shelves at a Bunnings outlet to support his young family.

But a return to those days, and nights, is far from his mind.

"You can gain trust quickly, but you can lose it just as quickly. Hopefully, I've started to change people's perceptions," Pedersen said.