SATURDAY was a night of firsts for Dayne Beams, and not only for claiming his maiden best and fairest with the Brisbane Lions.
It was also the first night Beams had taken the sling off his surgically repaired right shoulder.
While admitting to some nerves in dealing with the hand-shakers and backslappers, Beams said the injury was coming along nicely.
He had surgery in August and had been in the sling for four weeks.
"It's still sore," Beams said. "But everything's going to plan.
"Now I've got to have two weeks of it in the sling at day and off at night."
The 25-year-old had a brilliant first year for the Lions after switching from Collingwood last off-season.
He played 16 games before having his season cut short and carried a Lions midfield that had been hit hard by injuries to prime-movers Tom Rockliff and Pearce Hanley.
"I have a rehab program I have to follow and a fitness regime," Beams said.
"I'll be monitored up until Christmas in terms of contact, but after Christmas it'll be full systems go and I'll be right for the first NAB game."
He shared the Merrett-Murray Medal with Stefan Martin, Mitch Robinson and Dayne Zorko in a thrilling four-way tie.
With the Lions' playing list in a state of unrest, Beams took the opportunity during his acceptance speech to plead for teammates to stick with the club.
Speaking to reporters later, he said he wanted to say something meaningful.
"There's a lot of movement at the club at the moment, so it's just a matter of us sticking together and guys being passionate enough about the footy club to stay and believe we can turn things around," he said.
"Just because we finished on the bottom of the ladder this year doesn't mean we're there for the next three or four years.
"You can see with West Coast, Port Adelaide, (Western) Bulldogs, things can turn around quickly."