Clayton Oliver after Melbourne's win over the Western Bulldogs at the MCG in round one, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

CLAYTON Oliver has been praised for showing humility and vulnerability during his return to the MCG on Sunday, with Essendon champion Matthew Lloyd saying the Melbourne star appears ready to become a better person as well as a better footballer.

Oliver spent an extended period of time away from the club over the off-season amid personal issues but was back to his damaging best on the field against the Western Bulldogs on Sunday, picking up 35 disposals.

He also received a strong round of applause from Demons fans and a warm embrace from coach Simon Goodwin as he left the ground late in the game, a moment the 26-year-old said was "emotional" and gave him 'chills down his spine'.

In one of his few recent public interviews, Oliver conceded post-game he "still a lot of work to do" to win back the trust of his teammates and being "a better person and a better teammate (is) what keeps driving (him) every single day".

Lloyd said Oliver's comments indicated he may have reached a turning point in his life.

"I thought it was the most humble that I've seen Clayton, after the game," Lloyd told Access All Areas. "It's a life-changing thing.

"I've seen a tone of, I'll be honest, smugness with Clayton in the past. It might have been that he's won four best-and-fairest and he's had the world at his feet. Now he's been challenged about the person (he is), not the footballer.

"Let's hope he can continue on because football can save a lot of people and hopefully it's for the betterment of him for the rest of his life."

19:44's chief football correspondent Damian Barrett agreed with Lloyd's assessment.

"The smugness, I hear what you're saying. There's an immaturity component to it as well. He might not be able to help that, but I think part of this process he's actually had to hasten some maturity aspects of his life," Barrett said.

"To watch him speak after the game ... there was a humility to him and an awareness that it was special to be a part of it."

Access All Areas host Nat Edwards praised Oliver for being so open with supporters during the rare interview.

"I like the fact he was vulnerable with the audience and let them in," she said. "He was emotional about getting that standing ovation. I think people want to see that, they want to see remorse and also that he's growing as a person.

"He looked so happy which was incredible to see."

Clayton Oliver celebrates a win with fans during round one, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

Goodwin said while the Demons have done their best to support Oliver, the recent improvements were a credit to the player as much as the club.

"You just watch him in awe. As we've said a lot in the last three or four weeks, he's just done a power of work on himself," Goodwin said.

"The club has been incredibly supportive of Clayton, they've helped him in that process, he's committed to it and he's just come back a healthy, happy person who is committed to his training and his team.

"We saw today evidence of that. He just wants to be a great teammate and he did that today, and you could see the connection starting to build between teammates, everyone, supporters.

"There's a great love for Clayton at our club. Yep, there's been a bit going on, but we're in his corner and we're behind him and we want to see him succeed."