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Melbourne Football Club

Melbourne build the bonds

MELBOURNE'S rise this season can be at least partly attributed to Richmond-style bonding sessions that have drawn players closer together than ever before.

The Tigers last year famously powered to a drought-breaking premiership built on extraordinary trust, which was established during 'Triple H' sessions when players revealed their hero, hardship and highlight.

The Demons, meanwhile, appeared a disjointed group during the pre-season when the players refused to go on a planned commando camp after expressing concern over aspects of how the camp was conducted the previous year.

However, ahead of the Queen's Birthday blockbuster against Collingwood at the MCG – with Melbourne having the chance to regain third position – Demons' co-captain Jack Viney revealed they had bonded in a more caring-and-sharing way.

The first step was to deal with the fallout from the cancelled camp, given the players were roundly criticised by the wider football world.

"I kind of saw (it) the other way the majority of the public saw it," Viney told News Limited.

"People said it showed we were a fragmented group or didn't trust 'Goody' (coach Simon Goodwin). For me, it was a sign of unity and us coming together and coming up with a plan and moving forward."

A big part of that plan was to build "meaningful" relationships.

To that end, every six weeks the players break into small groups for various activities designed to get to know each other better and make them a tighter group.

The activities have included dinners and playing board games, squash and snooker.

"We have done a lot of work around it and it's been a pretty crucial part of our schedule, allocating time to be able to create those bonds and relationships that are a little bit deeper than normal," Viney said.

"It's just putting everything out on to the table. It's on both parties; it is the person you want to find out about as they open up, and it's the person who receives it and how they take it in the right manner.

"I guess it's telling our stories, our deepest, darkest secrets, these kinds of things.

"We are hearing stories that people's close friends and families haven't heard before and people are getting up in front of the group and feeling comfortable sharing it with the group.

"We see relationships as a massive part of performing and building a culture. The better the relationships you have with people, the more you want them to success.

"We aren't there yet, but it's definitely started to have an impact on our football."