AT THE end of each year, AFL lists return from their breaks and get to work in the annual pre-season grind.

This is often led by the club’s experienced players, guiding the team to the level of standards expected during pre-season.

This year, however, it seems that it’s Melbourne’s young group of players that are leading the way for hard work, says Demon Charlie Spargo.

“It’s really impressive to see the young guys come back in such good condition,” Spargo told Melbourne Media.

“Goody and Gawny, who have been in the football system for a long time, they’ve spoken about the first to fourth years and how they’re in the best condition they’d ever seen.

“It’s a testament to those young players for buying into the culture we’re trying to build in terms of being really professional and coming back in great condition.

“Not only does it help them heading into the rest of pre-season, but it also drives the rest of the group and gets us senior guys going as well, so it’s been a really good start.”

While it's been a number of the list impressing, Spargo highlighted one player in particular. 

"Jacob van Rooyen," Spargo said. 

“He’s has come back fitter and he’s put on a heap of size.

"He’s been training the house down, so he’s definitely one to watch.”

This pre-season has seen the club welcome a number of new faces, including Melbourne’s trade acquisitions in Brodie Grundy, Lachie Hunter and Josh Schache.

While it’s always an unusual transition moving from opposition to teammate, Spargo says it’s been a helpful learning experience for both sides.

“It’s really good to get a different perspective on things, three fresh faces bringing a new lens to the game,” Spargo said.

“It’d be remiss of us not to pick their brains, they’ve got so many things that we can learn from throughout their experience in the league.”

Spargo himself is feeling fit and ready to take on 2023, with the Christmas break just another opportunity to build. 

“I feel really strong this year and it’s only December,” Spargo said.

“We’re already doing really big sessions and because we had a longer break this year, we just feel like we’ve come back refreshed.

“The schedule over the Christmas break will be relatively similar to our current week’s schedule where we’ll have three main sessions of running and weights and then a shorter running session one day.

“And although you’re away from the club and getting that mental reset, you’ve still got a pretty strenuous program to stay really fit.

“So, it’s actually a really important time to build into the next couple of months of January and February, which puts you in good stead for the rest of the season.”