MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 11: Tom McDonald and Adam Tomlinson of the Demons walk off the field after a win during the 2021 AFL Round 04 match between the Melbourne Demons and the Geelong Cats at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on April 11, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Melbourne defender Adam Tomlinson is hopeful of leaving his own mark on the 2022 premiership race after missing out on last year's grand final.

The 28-year-old ruptured his ACL in May after awkwardly landing on his left leg in the Demons' Round 7 win over North Melbourne.

The ex-Giant was a key cog in the Demons' unbeaten start to the season before his year was abruptly ended, having helped his side ignite their run to an eventual drought-breaking flag.

While Tomlinson still played a major part in the club's 2021 story, the versatile backman will be looking to have a greater role this year as the Demons begin their premiership defence.

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Speaking to Melbourne Media, Tomlinson expressed his excitement for the new campaign, springboarding his motivation from watching his teammates collect premiership medals in September.

“I’ve got the fire in my belly big time,” he said.

"I wanted to come back and show that I’m ready to train, I’m ready to play, because I don’t want to miss out on what the club got to experience.

“It was amazing for us, but it was hard at times just sitting there and watching everyone be involved and celebrate, but at the same time, I had my fair share of celebrations.”

Tomlinson first returned to the training track amid the Demons' finals campaign, having been able to join his teammates as they prepared for a dominant September series.

Having spent the last several months fine-tuning his own preparations for the new season, Tomlinson has revealed he's in the best shape of his career.

“My knee’s great. It doesn’t worry me, I don’t even think of it on the field, so from that aspect, it’s going really well," he added.

“And I’m the fittest I’ve ever been. It’s been really good to change training up and do different forms of exercise.

“I started riding my bike a lot, along with obviously running and everything else we do. It’s been a huge change up in preparation, but I’ve absolutely loved it.”

The 194cm swingman has played just the 20 games in the red and blue since moving from western Sydney at the end of the 2019 season.

Following roles in attack and on the wing, Tomlinson has looked most at home in Simon Goodwin's defensive third, with the likes of Jake Lever, Steven May and Harry Petty proving to be an unstoppable trio.

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 10: Harrison Petty of the Demons in action during the 2021 AFL First Preliminary Final match between the Melbourne Demons and the Geelong Cats at Optus Stadium on September 10, 2021 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Petty enjoyed a breakout campaign in Tomlinson's absence, with Goodwin's premiership backline depths now bolstered with the return of his trusted tall.

The Demons are set for a grand final rematch against the Western Bulldogs on Wednesday, March 16 to open the 2022 AFL season.