SAM MAYES has put off contract talks with the Brisbane Lions as he focuses on making a strong start to the 2016 season.
Mayes, the No.8 pick in the 2012 NAB AFL Draft, is due to come out of contract at the end of this season.
The 21-year-old was linked to a possible return to his home state of South Australia ahead of last October's trade period, but is believed to be happy at the Gabba and last December purchased a three-bedroom house in the eastern Brisbane suburb Camp Hill.
AFL.com.au understands Mayes has informed the Lions that he does not want to open contract talks until about round eight of the home and away season, preferring to focus for now on returning to fitness and form after enduring an injury-disrupted 2015 season.
Mayes played just four of the Lions' first 12 games last year after suffering a stress reaction in his foot.
The South Australian returned to play the final 10 games of 2015 and began to rediscover his best form late in the season after settling on the wing.
After a strong pre-season Mayes, who is set for a new role across half-back in 2016, is looking to continue that momentum into this season and does not want any distractions.
It is believed the Lions are comfortable with Mayes' decision and remain hopeful the utility will ultimately recommit to the club.
Mayes shapes as an important re-signing for the Lions, having finished 10th in the club's best and fairest award in each of his first two seasons before last year's injury troubles.
The delay in contract talks will give Mayes more time to assess how the Lions' future looks on and off the field, with the 21-year-old keen to ensure that the Gabba is the best environment for him to fulfil his potential in the game.
The Lions endured a horror season in Justin Leppitsch's second year at the helm, finishing 17th amid reports of some player discontent with the coach.
At the end of the season, Jack Redden and James Aish successfully sought trades to West Coast and Collingwood respectively.
It was a far cry from two years earlier, however, when the departures of Elliot Yeo, Sam Docherty, Billy Longer, Jared Polec and Patrick Karnezis forced the Lions to revamp their player welfare and development departments.
The Lions have again sharpened their welfare focus this pre-season, luring the highly regarded Craig Lambert from Greater Western Sydney to lead the club's player retention efforts.
The Lions' development team has also been bolstered over the past two years by the additions of Leigh Harding and Scott Borlace, while long-time assistant coach Gary O'Donnell now oversees this increasingly important division.