AFTER playing 18 games in 2018 – his debut campaign with the Demons –, Charlie Spargo struggled to find any continuity at the top level.

The small forward managed just eight matches in each of the next two seasons, and something needed to change if he was to cement himself in the Dees’ best 22.

So, Spargo used those hard times, both as lessons and motivation, to become a key factor in Melbourne’s successful start to 2021.

“I’ve definitely matured in terms of realising what I need to do, particularly off the field, to put myself in the best position to play well,” Spargo said on Triple M radio.

“I definitely learned a couple of lessons, not so much in my first year – that went by really quickly – but my second and third year I did a lot of learning.

“I feel like I finally realise what I need to do during the week, and all that sort of stuff, to play my best footy.”

While the 21-year-old, who stands at just 173cm, has a great understanding of his role on-field, it was some habits off-field that needed to change.

And they have.

“Less frothies, less fried foods,” Spargo said.

“It’s more so my body, because I was breaking down in my second year.

“I did a big pre-season, and my body just couldn’t handle it, so it’s put me in a better position.

“I’m feeling better going into games now, so I can play better every week.”

That improvement has been noticed, both internally and externally.

Spargo may only be averaging 12 disposals from his 13 outings this year, but his impact is far greater.

He is a crucial pressure player in the Dees’ forward half and his decision making – accompanied by his elite foot skills – has helped take his game to the level many knew he was capable of.

“If I’m fitter, I’m not as buggered every time I get the ball, so I can make better decisions,” he said.

“It’s always been one of my strengths, but it certainly dropped off a bit in my second and third years.

“And it’s a lot easier when you’re playing in a good team.

“You look up and you’ve always got clear options from big guys like Tommy McDonald or run and carry options from our mids.

“It’s certainly easier to move the ball and make good decisions when everyone around you is functioning well.”

Hear more from Spargo below: