This time last year, Max Heath had a wakeup call.
With one NAB League game to his name and the number one ruck role up for grabs, he knew he had to step up.
And the coaching staff didn’t beat around the bush.
“At the start of the season, a few boys got pulled into a room at one of the Dragons trainings before Christmas,” Heath recalled.
“[They said] ‘You’re on the fringe, you need to step it up and get cracking, otherwise you’ll be cut’.
“That was a really big turning point for me.”
Heath was told to improve his endurance, keep building size, and work on his skills.
“I went away, did some running sessions, extra weight sessions and continued that all the way through lockdown,” he said.
Training and playing with a Dragons squad that saw nine players drafted last year, Heath has long seen the dedication required to make the elite level.
And this year, he’s focused on implementing that same drive into every session.
“How dedicated [last year’s draftees] all are, their diet and their training, they go 100% every time.
“That’s something I’ve tried to focus on, just taking it really seriously and putting in a lot of effort.”
It’s allowed the 202cm ruckman to become more versatile, improving his follow-up work and offering the ability to play as a key forward.
“The follow-up work, I’ve really been trying to focus on that this year along with my competitiveness, and I can go forward and take a few grabs,” he said.
Impressing in pre-season practice matches before the pandemic struck, Heath was able to illustrate his improvement despite the absence of the 2020 NAB League competition.
Now, after being interviewed my multiple clubs, Heath is a strong chance to be selected in the AFL draft on December 9.