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Forgotten Demon signs on for a fresh start

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Aaron vandenBerg has signed a one-year contract extension with the Demons - AFL,Aaron vandenBerg,Melbourne Demons
Aaron vandenBerg has signed a one-year contract extension with the Demons
It's surprising what you can actually learn when you step back and look at the game
Aaron vandenBerg

RUGGED Melbourne forward Aaron vandenBerg hopes to bounce back from injury and reclaim his spot after re-signing with the Demons for 2018. 

The 24-year-old did not play this season after suffering a hot spot in his heel that eventually required surgery in June when it did not respond to rest. 

But the Demons are keen to keep him for another season as they understand his value. 

VandenBerg is now on the recovery trail and is optimistic he can return to the form he showed after being plucked from the rookie list in 2015. 

He said the year off was not wasted and, if anything, his desire to succeed is even stronger now than it was when he made his debut in round one, 2015. 

"I don't think you lose that hunger to want to play and play well," vandenBerg told AFL.com.au

"I'm really looking forward to getting back and hopefully forcing my way back into that 22 and playing some good footy." 

VandenBerg said the most frustrating time for him in 2017 was the week after he had surgery that ruled him out for the year when Melbourne defeated the Western Bulldogs in round 13 by 57 points, as it dawned on him that he would not be playing with the team this year. 

He managed to pick himself up and continue to contribute off the field, doing opposition analysis with forwards coach Troy Chaplin, assisting first and second-year players who were watching vision, and sitting on the bench at VFL games.

It points to a player who invests in the club regardless of his personal circumstances.

"With a long-term injury, it's important to stay involved because if you are not evolving with [the game] it can leave you behind pretty quickly," vandenBerg said. 

"It's surprising what you can actually learn when you step back and look at the game."

It also explains why he was shattered when the Demons missed the finals although he can now see good signs.

"The group showed a lot of improvement [but] it also showed immaturity which we know we need to improve and get better at day to day, but I think there is no doubt the team is trending in the right direction," vandenBerg said. 

"I am hoping there is something special there." 

VandenBerg built his reputation with a fierce attack on the ball and pressure on the opposition, a particularly useful asset in the forward half.

He will play anywhere the team needs him to play and expects that to be somewhere between the half-forward line and the midfield in 2018.

He can't wait to play his first game under Simon Goodwin with the first-year coach part of the reason he was so keen to stay at the Demons.  

"He has a great knowledge of the game and but he also has a great knowledge of the playing group," vandenBerg said. 

"He pulls the right strings to get the best out of each player and is always looking to improve."

As is vandenBerg, when he begins training on November 6 with the heel problem in the past. 

"All is tracking well so far [and I am] hoping this is the last of my troubles," he said.