SAM Blease is desperate to make the most of his second chance to play at the highest level.
Delisted by Melbourne at the end of last season, the speedy midfielder joined Geelong in early November as a delisted free agent, and he is out to prove his doubters wrong.
"I feel like I've got a lot of AFL footy ahead of me," Blease, who turns 24 on February 19, told geelongcats.com.au.
"I didn't think I was finished up at the end of last year. I felt that I probably could have played a few more games for Melbourne, which I was a bit disappointed about.
"In saying that, I've come here and it’s a great side and I just want to be part of it."
Blease was selected by the Demons with pick 17 in the 2008 national draft, but he played just 33 games in six seasons (for six wins and 27 losses), and he made only two appearances in the AFL last year.
But he has been rejuvenated by his move down the Princes Highway. He has moved into a house in Newtown and is enjoying his time at Simonds Stadium.
"It's been a big change, but the players have been really welcoming," Blease said.
"It's taken a little bit to adjust to it all, but I'm just trying to learn as much as I can as quickly as I can to fit in with the way Geelong go about it.
"I remember my first week on the track with all the senior guys and I was sort of thinking, 'Wow, I'm out here with Jimmy Bartel and Joel Selwood and Steve Johnson.'
"But now the reality of it all has all sunk in and I'm really enjoying it."
With the NAB Challenge just around the corner, Blease is hoping to feature in at least one of Geelong's matches.
"I've just got to keep working as hard as I can and learning as much as I can and the rest will take care of itself," he said.
"I've been working closely with Nigel Lappin, Matty Knights and Matty Scarlett on the defensive aspects of the game.
"I feel like I've been able to make some really good gains over the last month, which are hopefully going to hold me in good stead pushing into the season."
Geelong's coaches are not putting too much early pressure on Blease, preferring to give him time to adapt to his new footballing environment.
"When players join our club from another club, the adaption to our game-style and the way we go about things time can be quite significant early on," Knights said.
"Players that are new can have really good weeks on the track, then the next week they might take a step back as they look to get their heads around different parts of what we're doing.
"It's a big task for Sam to come in and have an impact straight away on this group, because the group is experienced, it's well-credentialled and talented.
"So for any new players coming in it's quite a challenge. But Sam's attacking his training really well, and I would say his last couple of sessions have been a real positive for him.
"He's taken a step forward in his training and he's starting to do quite well on the track. He's doing his best to improve every session and adapt to the way we play."
Looking towards the home and away matches, Blease has been impressed by the belief among the Cats' players that they can again feature prominently at the pointy end of the season.
"It's amazing how high the expectations are internally," he said.
"They've got some great leaders in Joel Selwood, Harry Taylor and the Bartels and the Enrights really driving those standards.
"It's no surprise to me that they've been so successful over the last few years."