Oliver’s return delighting Demons in AFL pre-season

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Clayton Oliver is impressing teammates as he returns to Melbourne’s AFL pre-season training after a rough few months.

The star midfielder joined in some of Monday’s session before the Demons went to Seymour, north of Melbourne, for their community camp.

Oliver returned a fortnight ago after several weeks away from the club because of personal issues.

While it remains unclear when one of the Melbourne’s best players will be able to play again, teammate Alex Neal-Bullen said his return had lifted spirits.

“It’s fantastic to see ‘Clayts’ back at the footy club – he integrated into some main drills today,” the Melbourne forward said.

“He’s moving really well, so it’s positive for Clarrie, for the football club and we’re really excited to have him back in.

“We’re always there to support him as well.”

Melbourne had some match simulation on Monday ahead of Sunday morning’s hit-out over seven periods against Richmond at Casey Fields.

Neal-Bullen said Melbourne’s straight-sets exit from the finals – the second year in a row that had happened – had given them plenty of motivation in the pre-season.

“It’s a feeling you never forget. It’s something that continues to drive this group, especially when you don’t have the success in a finals series,” he said.

“(But) I continually remind myself, and the leaders within this club, that the footy club is in a great spot.

“Although we’re not happy how we ended last year, we know we’re building to something.”

Neal-Bullen added they are confident they will be in good shape for Sunday’s practice session against the Tigers.

“Probably for my time at the footy club, it’s something we’ve really trained from the start of our pre-seasons, so when your games start you don’t find it’s a massive jump in intensity,” he said.

“That, for us, we believe holds us in good stead to really start the season well this Sunday.”

Melbourne’s AFLW captain Kate Hore and several teammates were also at the community camp as they start their training after a couple of months off.

The Demons’ AFLW premiership defence also ended poorly last November with two finals losses.

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