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Melbourne Football Club

Salem relishes first year taste

Christian Salem season review First-year Demon Christian Salem reflects on his 2014 season and looks ahead to his second AFL year
Christian Salem of the Demons in action during the Melbourne Demons training session at Gosch's Paddock, Melbourne on November 05, 2014. (Photo: Michael Willson/AFL Media)
Christian Salem of the Demons in action during the Melbourne Demons training session at Gosch's Paddock, Melbourne on November 05, 2014. (Photo: Michael Willson/AFL Media)

EXCITING young Demon Christian Salem says his first year in the AFL went “extremely quick”, but he loved every minute of it, despite being struck with illness soon after he arrived at the club.

Salem suffered a thyroid problem and was unable to complete part of the pre-season.

However, despite his illness, Salem took a lot of confidence out of his debut season, as he was able to bounce back and play a dozen matches, plus exceed his expectations in terms of his running ability in matches.

“Early on when I got to the club it was pretty frustrating because I had that thyroid problem and I lost eight or nine kilos and I couldn’t really train before Christmas,” he told Dee TV.

“I missed a fair chunk of pre-season, so by that time I didn’t really know [how my season] was going to look like that year.

“I pushed through … and it was a bit weird because I played the first few games at Casey and when I first got diagnosed with the thyroid I wasn’t really meant to play the first half of the year.”

Salem said after playing the first few rounds at Casey this season, he was able to build his match fitness.

“It was good to get the fitness back because I didn’t really have too much of a pre-season … and then I was lucky enough to play a few games from there,” he said.

“At the start of the year, if you said I’d play 12 games – I would’ve been surprised. It was a great experience and I learned a lot.

“The last game [I played in 2014] wasn’t a good way to finish off – I got a bit crook before the game, so it was a bit disappointing, so what could you do?”

But the 19-year-old said he was determined to build on his first year and already had a key focus for the pre-season.

“You’ve got to play to your strengths and one of my strengths is my kicking and using the footy well,” he said.

“I think at times I do it well, but I’ve got to be consistent and all of the coaches say ‘you’ve got to be an expert at what you do’. For me being an expert in my kicking is the biggest thing that I’ll work on this pre-season.

“We want to play to our strengths … so this pre-season I’ll work on my kicking and make sure I don’t waste a possession.”

Reflecting on his match-winning goal just before the final siren against Essendon in round 13 at the MCG this year, Salem said it was a surreal experience.

“I went for Essendon growing up and to have a shot after the game was a bit weird,” he said.

“I was sitting there watching [David] Zaharakis kick two in a row and I’ve been watching that for the last three or four years and a couple of minutes later I had the ball in my hands.

“The way we fought back – it was a real good team effort the way we grounded it out and anyone could have had that shot and I was just lucky to be on the end of it. As long as we put it through and got the win that’s all that matters.”

But he said slotting through the goal also gave him confidence at the highest level.

“There was a fair bit of pressure, but having the ability to come on as a sub and have an impact … [it was good] to do some things defensively, lay some tackles and have your input.”

“If you do that stuff early, you get rewarded at the end and I was lucky enough to get the rewards.”