STEVEN May’s boots are not easy ones to fill.
The key defender, who came second in the club’s Best and Fairest last year, is set to miss two to four weeks with a fractured right eye socket, leaving some weight on Adam Tomlinson’s shoulders.
But the former Giant isn’t too concerned, with Melbourne’s backline depth proving to be one of its biggest strengths in 2021.
“It doesn’t fall on the individual,” Tomlinson said on The Talking Points.
“There are seven of us that play in the backline and you would’ve seen on the weekend that Nev and Hunty would’ve had to go to the next tall person, and so therefore they’ve got a little bit more responsibility [as well].
“So it doesn’t just fall on the individual, it falls on the group which has been a great thing that we’ve developed over the last six months.”
There’s no doubt the Dees are beginning to build some continuity in defence, which has been a major factor in their 4-0 start to the season.
And Tomlinson says the boys’ work behind closed doors has been the key to their early success.
“It doesn’t come off just playing well together, this goes to every training session we’ve had, and not just going through the motions at training,” he said.
“We know they’re our teammates, but we want to walk off the track having beaten them and having the wood over them for the next session.
“That’s what we’ve been able to create – a really healthy, competitive environment, so when we go out to train we’re forced to train the best we can, so we can keep preparing ourselves in the best possible way.”
While Tomlinson was recruited to the Demons as a wingman, he has already shown an ability to play in multiple positions throughout his first 17 games for the club.
But after a slow start last year, he has finally settled into a role that suits him best.
“I’ve played forward, I’ve played ruck, I’ve played on the wing – I’ve played every position in the book, I’m pretty sure,” he said.
“I’ve always loved my time in the backline … you’re really forced to look out for each other which I love so much about the area you play.
“I’ve said this many times, I’ll play wherever the coach needs me to play, but I’m loving being in the backline.”
To hear more from Tomlinson in the lead up to Round 5, watch this week’s episode of The Talking Points below.