MELBOURNE forward Chris Dawes says he has to change the way he trains and plays if he wants to remain in football.

The Collingwood premiership player has battled knee and calf problems since joining Melbourne at the beginning of last season and has played just 13 games for the club.

In his first game for the season, on Saturday against Carlton last Saturday, he played a significant cameo role, kicking two long goals and providing a presence inside 50.

After such a long lay-off he pulled up "pretty bloody sore" and will need every minute of the eight-day break to be fresh and firing against Gold Coast at the MCG on Sunday.

Beyond that the 25-year-old, renowned for his hard work on the track at Collingwood, has realised the need to modify his approach to achieve what he wants to in football.

"A couple of months ago I had one of those chats with Dave Misson (Melbourne's fitness boss) where he kind of told me, 'Well, you're not the kid that you were, so you are going to have to start investing more time in your body, and you can't do some of the things you used to be able to do and took for granted'," Dawes said.

"With that in mind I think it is going be an ongoing thing for the rest of my career. I'm going to have to invest a lot of time and energy just making sure my body is right and really looking after it."

Dawes said the performance up forward of defenders James Frawley (who heads Dawes former partner-in-crime Travis Cloke on the goalkicking table - three to Frawley, two to Cloke) and Lynden Dunn had led to him being branded "decoy Dawes".

Although it's a moniker he's not too sure about, he is rapt with what Frawley and Dunn have provided inside 50, saying they played like gun forwards against Carlton.

As to whether Frawley would be alongside him this week against the Suns, Dawes has no doubt.

"He has to stay up there," Dawes said.