Melbourne star Clayton Oliver was back to his best in the Demons' Round 1 win over the Western Bulldogs, but the midfielder admits the performance is only a small part of wanting to earn back the trust of his teammates.

Oliver's well-documented off-season placed some doubt over the 26-year-old's chances of playing the opening rounds of the season, having stepped away from the Demons' program over the summer to focus on his mental wellbeing.

That decision came months after the club had discussions with Oliver over his standards at the club, with the triple All-Australian putting in the work in the back end of the pre-season to get himself ready for Opening Round.

Oliver has looked comfortable back in the red and blue across his first two games of the year, with Sunday's win over the Dogs seeing the ball magnet feature among his side's best performers.

The Demons onballer collected a game-high 35 disposals to go with  six clearances and two goal assists, partnering with captain Max Gawn as Melbourne's best in their first win for 2024.

Speaking to Fox Footy after the game, Oliver said playing his part on the field will help regain some faith from his teammates, who have helped him get back into football along with key members of the club.

"It's been a tough couple of months, but I've had Gawny and the rest of the boys helping me out," Oliver said honestly. 

"It's all worth it at the end of the day, getting to do this and getting a win for the boys.

"I've still got a lot of work to do (to earn back the trust). There's little steps along the way and this is one of them to be a better person and better teammate. I'll keep striving every day.

"Credit to the strength and conditioning staff, I did a little bit when I wasn't at the club. I'm feeling alright.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 17: Clayton Oliver of the Demons kicks during the round one AFL match between Melbourne Demons and Western Bulldogs at Melbourne Cricket Ground, on March 17, 2024, in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

"I'm ticking along and will hopefully get better every week, like the team."

Oliver played 71% game time against the Bulldogs - the lowest of any player for Melbourne who wasn't subbed in/out of the game - as the Demons looked to build his workloads each week.

Gawn was arguably Melbourne's top performer in the 45-point win, recording 26 touches, 35 hitouts, eight clearances and 12 contested possessions to steer his side to their maiden win of the season.

The Demons will remain in Melbourne for Round 2 when they face Hawthorn at the MCG, with a trip to Adelaide to face the Power scheduled for the week after.

Melbourne will then face Adelaide in South Australia in Round 4 before an enticing clash with fellow contenders Brisbane back at the MCG prior to their Round 6 bye.

 2024-03-17T02:00:00Z 
 
 
MCG
MELB   
109
FT
64
   WB