Brayshaw happy to sacrifice for flag tilt

Angus Brayshaw (l) is one of Melbourne's AFL players sacrificing his own game for team team success.
Angus Brayshaw (l) is one of Melbourne's AFL players sacrificing his own game for team team success.

Melbourne midfielder Angus Brayshaw says it's been easy to sacrifice personal glory for the sake of the greater good after the entire AFL squad adopted a team-first mentality.

High hopes were placed on the Demons after they made the preliminary final in 2018, but they were soon written off as one-hit wonders when they crashed to 17th in 2019 and ninth last year.

A series of frank chats during the pre-season resulted in the Demons adopting a more selfless approach, and the move has paid massive dividends.

Melbourne secured the minor premiership in 2021, and they will end their 57-year flag drought if they beat the Western Bulldogs in Saturday's grand final in Perth.

Brayshaw has been one of the players who has happily sacrificed his game in order to achieve team success.

After finishing third in the Brownlow medal in 2018 as a tough inside midfielder, Brayshaw's form dropped away noticeably in a period that coincided with the emergence of stars Christian Petracca and Clayton Oliver.

Brayshaw willingly accepted a less flashy role this year in which he spends large chunks of games on the wing.

The 25-year-old averaged 26.1 possessions and 4.3 clearances per game in 2018 to go with 14 goals.

Those numbers have dropped to 18.1 possessions and 1.4 clearances per game this year, and just two goals.

"It's easy to sacrifice when we can actually tangibly see the results," Brayshaw said.

"We're winning more games, people are buying into the team concept, it's a weight of numbers now.

"It's very easy to go the extra mile and do something extra for your mate when everyone else is doing it and we're winning.

"It's been really enjoyable."

Petracca is one of the players to benefit from teammates taking on less prominent roles, and he was quick to acknowledge that.

"The selflessness of the group - so many guys are accepting their role and just playing their role for the team," Petracca said.

"I'm pretty fortunate in my position that I get to play the way I want to play.

"There's so many guys who allow me to play that - Tom Sparrow, James Harmes, guys like that.

"We wouldn't be where we are if it wasn't for those guys."

Four-time premiership Hawthorn ace Jordan Lewis has been influential in helping promote the team-first culture.

Lewis spent the final three years of his decorated playing career at Melbourne, before becoming a part-time coach at the Demons.

"Every training session we have an emphasis on playing your role and being selfless for the team," Petracca said.

"So many teams have won premierships from that.

"You look at Hawthorn - Jordan Lewis has been with us for five years now, and he always talked about the Hawthorn days and how everyone just accepted their role, and look at Richmond as well.

"So there's no real secret to it.

"I just think for us we got to an age - myself I'm 25 now and maturing - you just want to win and be part of a football club that's great and put Melbourne back on the map.

"When we were 7-0, 8-0 (earlier this year), we realised this works."

Australian Associated Press