DEFENDER Dean Terlich says he’s determined to start 2015 strongly after being frustrated with his finish towards the end of last year.

Terlich played the opening 11 matches last year – on the back of making his AFL debut in 2013, playing 20 matches and finishing third in Melbourne’s best and fairest – but managed four appearances in the final 11 matches.  

But the likeable defender said he was eager to secure a spot in the 22 this year.

“I wasn’t really happy with how I finished off last year – there’s no doubt,” he told

“I fizzled out a bit, but I’m feeling really positive this year, even though I’m a little bit behind the group, without doing the whole pre-season. I’m bridging that gap as quickly as possible, so I can get back in the team and cement that spot.

“Maybe it was the expectations on myself went up a bit. I put too much expectation on myself, rather than outside expectation. It was a long year and I just burned out a bit, but I’m definitely looking forward to this season.”

Terlich said he wanted to get back to playing with a clear mind this year.  

“I think the first year [at Melbourne] was very raw and new and last year the expectations got to me a bit,” he said.

“This year, there aren’t the expectations and [I’m] just taking everything as they come. I’m doing everything I possibly can to get fit and play well.

“I think I play my best football when I’m not thinking too far ahead. That’s the plan – just keep going one day at a time and keep getting better.”

Still, with 35 matches to his name after two seasons, Terlich said he had far exceeded what he hoped for when he rejoined the AFL – having spent one season with the Sydney Swans in 2008.

“When I came here I just wanted to play one game,” he said.

“I wasn’t really expecting to play 35 in my first two years, but I just want to try and play every game throughout 2015 and see where that takes us.

“The team has moved forward a lot, so everyone needs to keep improving to get games.”

Despite being known as a rebounding defender and wanting to play that role in 2015, he is equally happy to spend time up forward or in the midfield, if required.

“I’ve been training with the defenders again and I’m still looking forward to playing that role, but one thing that Roosy (Paul Roos) has been big on is that you must understand every role in the team – just in case,” he said.

“I still enjoy playing forward when I get the chance and when my fitness gets back up – on the wing or midfield – but I’m just excited to play anywhere.”

Terlich said the Sunshine Coast camp had been “pretty full on”, but he was making the most of training in the heat, after a delayed start to the pre-season.

“The first few days we had to get adjusted to the heat, but it’s been really positive,” he said.

“For me personally, I’ve been catching up to everyone after being in rehab. I was a little bit behind, but I’ve progressed over the past week, which has been good. As a group, we’re getting across the game plan.

 “I had a clean out of my right ankle and an arthroscope a couple of months ago and when I was back running, it flared up and I had a shin stress reaction on my left leg. But I’m back up and running now, which is good.”

Meanwhile, Terlich said he looked back on his post-season incident with disappointment, but he had moved on and learned a strong lesson.

“I copped a bit of flak and fair enough. There was absolutely no harm meant, but I upset a few people. I’ve moved on and have done the right things since, but I definitely won’t be doing anything ever like that again,” he said.

“People who know me know that there was no harm or malice intended. They’re the ones that count the most, but I’ve got a reputation at the club and I’ve got to represent myself and everyone [at the club].

“I’ve got to understand that when you’re in the AFL, you’re in the media and the [public] eye constantly, so you’ve got to do everything right all of the time.”