A PRE-SEASON callout from coach Chris Fagan and subsequent round one omission wasn't how Cam Ellis-Yolmen pictured his Brisbane career starting.
The Lions lured the big-bodied midfielder from Adelaide at the end of last season on a multi-year deal to add another dimension to their onball brigade, and he seemed a lock to play from the word go.
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Instead, Fagan dumped Ellis-Yolmen for the club's Marsh Community Series finale, saying he needed to work harder away from the contest and earn his spot.
Speaking more than three months later – and having played in Brisbane's past two games, including a win over the embattled Crows – the 27-year-old admits he wasn't fit enough.
Ellis-Yolmen spent much of the shutdown period back in Adelaide, sticking to a strict training regime and adding some boxing and cycling to his routine to return to his best shape.
"It was a good break for me to come back, refresh, get back into the team and get going, so I'm happy where I'm at," he told reporters.
"I just picked up my fitness, ran more, did other cross-training and got back to where I was at the start of last year.
"Moving over here was a bit of a challenge and not being picked for round one was a bit of a kick in the bum and that kind of spurred me on to get back to the fitness I want to be at and I'm at now."
Ellis-Yolmen is also thriving playing next to star midfielder and Brownlow Medal favourite Lachie Neale, a fellow South Australian product.
"He's great to play alongside, awesome to watch and I get a front-row seat to how he plays," he said of Neale.
"He's such a great person; I'm good mates with him and that helps. I have 'JL' (former Crow Jarryd Lyons) as well, so it's been great.
"I feel like he's helped me as a player as well to learn off him; how he plays, how he runs and how he trains, so it's been awesome to come over here and play in this midfield, because they're very dynamic."
The Lions have bounced back from their round one defeat to Hawthorn to win all three of their games since the season resumed.
Saturday night's clash with unbeaten Port Adelaide at the Gabba will be another test – but Ellis-Yolmen warned the Power that Brisbane was prepared for anything they threw at Neale.
Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkle infamously instructed Cam Sutcliffe, a groomsman at Neale's wedding two years ago, to "terrorise" the ball magnet ahead of the clubs' most recent contest.
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Sutcliffe and his Power teammates physically battered Neale, who still won 24 possessions and 10 clearances.
"They can try what they want – it didn't really work last time," Ellis-Yolmen said.
"We're looking forward to it and we'll just play our brand of footy and they can bring whatever they want to but we're just going out and focusing on us."