ALTHOUGH training as a forward under line coach Leigh Brown, Sam Blease says he is itching to move up the ground and play as a wingman in 2013.
Blease said it was a goal of his to return to the midfield, where he shone as a junior, before a serious ankle injury stalled the early part of his career.
“I think I’ll start up forward, but hopefully I’ll have little stints on the wing, which I really want to do, because I think I can add value to the side,” he told melbournefc.com.au.
“If I can keep training consistently well and keep improving my fitness and endurance, then hopefully I’ll be able to push up on the wing for little spurts.
“Hopefully in a couple of years’ time I can become a wingman, who rests forward, rather than a forward who goes up on the wing for a little bit. That’ll come from more pre-seasons and hard work.”
But there is also genuine merit in using Blease’s talents in attack, as highlighted by his five goals against St Kilda in round 20 last year. (For the record, he also booted 19 goals in 2012, including a goal in every round from round 11 to 23, except round 21).
“It was a good game for me, kicking five goals. It was a good little reward, because I’d been training well in the weeks leading up,” he said.
“I stamped myself as someone who wants to be part of the side and help the side to become good. It’s not about individual accolades, but it was good to bob up and kick five and help the side try to win, which we weren’t able to do, unfortunately.
“I’m not sure I’ll kick five every week, but if I can kick a couple or be consistently valuable to the side, then hopefully I can be effective on the wing and then hit up [forwards] Mitch Clark or Chris Dawes.”
Although his defensive pressure was a reason for his omission early last year, Blease said it would improve this year, after he made strides in that area in the latter part of 2012.
“I’m thinking about defending now, whereas I used to think about recovery after I’d done an offensive effort. No longer am I thinking ‘I’m stuffed’,” he said.
“It’s something myself and Craigy (Neil Craig) have really been trying to work on.
“I’m getting fitter, so I’m not as fatigued when I’m out there training. I haven’t really missed any of the sessions, which has been fantastic for me.”
Reflecting on the pre-season to date, Blease it had been intense from his perspective, particularly the pre-Christmas trip to Darwin/Kakadu National Park.
“It was very tough. It was some of the toughest training I’ve ever done. I didn’t think it could get any harder than it was last pre-season, but the first day was unbelievable in Darwin,” he said.
“Getting mentally stressed was something I hadn’t really dealt with before. I think a few of the other boys were in the same boat. But it brought the group a lot closer, training under those conditions.
“The boys worked really well together and got everyone through, which was good. It was a sign of where we’re at as a club and that we’re going in the right direction.”