ESSENDON recruit Devon Smith has declared he'll keep playing on the edge after a stoush with teammate Darcy Parish on the training track.
The midfield pair were involved in a heated exchange during an intraclub match at Tullamarine on Friday, although they were said to be in good spirits afterwards.
For Smith, who played mostly as a forward with Greater Western Sydney, it was a sign of how competitive it will be for midfield spots at the Bombers this year.
Jake Stringer has also been spending plenty of time on-ball after securing a trade from the Western Bulldogs while Parish, Andrew McGrath, Kyle Langford and Jayden Laverde are contenders for more midfield time.
A fiery competitor, Smith has no intention of changing his aggressive style, even with the League clamping down on the most minor striking offences.
"I think it's competitive footy. You're not going hard enough if boys aren't competing for spots," Smith said on Tuesday.
"I've been told to be myself here. You've got to find the line and obviously (there are) all the new rules now with fines and stuff. But you've got to play on the edge.
"That's the sport we play."
Aged 24 and with 109 games to his name, Smith has found himself among Essendon's senior players following the retirement of several club stalwarts, including former skipper Jobe Watson.
"The other day they said, 'Put your hand up if you've played 50 games' and not even half the room did," he said.
"I was like, 'Wow, we've got a lot of room for improvement'.
"Lately I've realised that I am one of the senior guys here. That's something you've got to take on with training and off the field and helping people out.
"I think your first couple of years you're just worried about getting a game but now it's about helping people and helping the team."
Smith said he had received words of encouragement from club great James Hird, whose No.5 guernsey he will wear in his debut season.
Hird battled depression following the club's doping saga but has been sighted recently at Tullamarine, where his daughter Stephanie has trained with Essendon's VFL women's team.