RICHMOND defender Brandon Ellis admits being dumped to the VFL for a month was the wake-up call he needed in the Tigers' premiership defence.
Ellis' second match back in the senior team resulted in a season-high 25 disposals as the Tigers accounted for Essendon in Dreamtime at the 'G on Saturday night.
The 25-year-old said the end to his 111-game streak after round five would keep him on edge for the rest of the year.
"Yeah, you could say that," Ellis told AFL.com.au of his wake-up call.
"It's been a slow start to the year, not the start I would've liked.
"(I) did my time in the twos, I love playing with the VFL boys and I learnt a lot. It just shows you can't take your spot for granted and everyone's trying to play in your spot.
"I've learnt my lesson and hopefully I never have to look back.
"Not that I got complacent or anything, it's just the boys like Bachar (Houli) and Shorty (Jayden Short), our other half-backs were playing better than I was at the time."
Coach Damien Hardwick said the coaching staff gave Ellis specific instructions to focus on in his time in the VFL.
"In fairness to Brandon, he didn't go out playing horribly," Hardwick said post-game.
"He had some areas that he needed to improve, and he needed to work on those.
"We had some players below who were playing some really good footy. I was really pleased for him (tonight), (he) really got back to the Brandon Ellis we know and love.
"Playing to his strengths, being really strong in the air and just covering the ground incredibly well."
Ellis acknowledged his kicking was the one area of his game that needed to change with time out of the side.
"Just my contested ball and being composed when I get the ball, because I was rushed and just blast kicking," he said.
"I went back, worked on those things and I'm just pleased I could put a four-quarter effort together tonight."
With Houli to be sidelined with a groin injury up until the Tigers' round 14 bye, Ellis will have his chance to secure his spot for the second half of the season.