CHRISTIAN Petracca remembers how Melbourne's recruiting staff grilled him slightly differently to other clubs in the lead-up to the 2014 draft.

The Demons' national recruiting manager, Jason Taylor, and his team weren't armed with notes or scribbling down Petracca's answers when they visited his parents' Warrandyte home.

Melbourne still had some big questions ahead of a club-defining draft where it held picks two and three, eventually spent on Petracca and Angus Brayshaw.

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"They said, 'Do you really want this?', 'How much do you want this?', 'We're looking for a leader at the club and are you prepared to do this?'," Petracca told at the time.

The Demons had just won four games in 2014 – double as many as a season earlier – in Paul Roos' first year in charge.

Eight seasons without finals were already in the rearview mirror.

Roos, labelled "the messiah" in some Melbourne circles, was never going to resurrect this under-performing team on his own, and bulk early draft picks hadn't been enough in the past.

The Demons' list boss Todd Viney, Taylor and Roos had specific types of players they wanted to bring into the club.

A high premium was placed on competitiveness and a proven ability to perform well in big games, but also factored in was personality.

Shrinking violets weren't necessarily going to be the right fit for Melbourne, something Petracca would never be accused of.

Petracca's Eastern Ranges TAC Cup coach and dual Essendon premiership forward Darren Bewick this week described him as "perfect" for the situation he walked into.

"They haven't been through a lot of success, but he comes in and has been successful in everything he's done, in his basketball and his football," Bewick said.

"When only Nathan Jones has played finals for them (in 2006) – that's a long time ago – there's a lot of, not insecurity, but unsure-edness about what a group can do.

"But if you can get a Christian Petracca personality in, it's more, 'This has happened, let's do what we have to do'.

"A lot of players they've brought into the club are that type of player that can feed off each other, and now they've got this positive, uplifting mood going through the whole place."

Petracca and Brayshaw, who fought out an epic one-on-one duel in the final round of the 2014 TAC Cup season that is still talked about, might be viewed as 'no-brainer' selections.

But Taylor found a kindred spirit with a similarly "larger-than-life personality" for the pair one year later, again near the top of the draft and this time with serious debate on which way they should go.

Clayton Oliver started his draft year without any certainty about his AFL prospects, missed Vic Country selection, then positively transformed his reputation like few – or none – before him.

Even then, Oliver's body was far from chiseled and his eating habits raised more than a few eyebrows.

The Demons bid on Sydney academy prospect Callum Mills at pick three, knowing the Swans would match, then opted for Oliver over a player, Darcy Parish, considered a sure-fire 200-gamer.

It was a risk that is paying rich dividends three years on, with Oliver a first-time All Australian in 2018 and one of the brightest young talents in the competition.

Oliver, from northern Victorian town Echuca, moved in with the Brayshaws, including Angus' brothers and future AFL footballers Andrew and Hamish, as well as their parents, Mark and Debra, for his first season.

"Initially, you could argue Clayton was more friendly with Hamish and Andrew than Angus, when the four of them were living together," Mark Brayshaw told

"But there's no doubt Angus and Clayton have become a lot closer. I sense a different relationship now.

"They're very different, but they're in meetings together, they train together, they're onballers in the team and see a lot of one another, and they've built a genuine friendship."

Brayshaw and Oliver now share a house with teammates Aaron vandenBerg, one of Taylor's rookie-list selection gems, and Dion Johnstone.

VandenBerg receives big credit internally for his role in shaping the midfield duo's professionalism.

The relationship between Brayshaw, Oliver and Petracca has blossomed in front of the footy public's eyes to Melbourne's great benefit.

There was Petracca and Brayshaw's amusingly odd chin-on-chin exchange after the Demons thrashed Gold Coast in round eight.

On another occasion after an Oliver goal, he and Petracca stirred imaginary pots – a celebration straight out of NBA superstar James Harden's book – and then there's the 'secret handshakes'.

The 'Esprit de Corps' mantra adopted at Melbourne can be articulated in many ways, but basically relates to morale, trust, loyalty and pride.

Coach Simon Goodwin, who succeeded Roos ahead of last season, regularly uses quotes to promote "togetherness" and has established a "fun" learning environment.

"They've got a coach that doesn't take away their instincts and allows them to play to the strengths that made them a good player," Bewick said.

"You hear the players talk and they're really happy with the environment.

"They don't talk much about the footy on the field; it's more how they're feeling towards each other. There's a great vibe around the place."

At the same time, Goodwin, and before him Roos, kept the prodigiously talented trio on a relatively tight leash.

Individuality in the right circumstance is fine, but if they wanted to play, it had to be the team's way.

Oliver had an extended VFL stint mid-year in his rookie season, Roos had several heart-to-heart discussions with Petracca, and Brayshaw played the first three rounds of this year in the state league.

"We had an honest conversation – me, 'Goody' and Nath Jones, being a mentor of mine and a really good mate who genuinely cares about how I'm going and what I'm doing," Brayshaw told's AFL Exchange podcast in May. 

"We just spoke about a few things and how to turn it all around, in terms of the way I was responding.

"Goody's been great, because he was honest about why I wasn't playing … and also, which I really appreciated, (he told me) 'Here's the road map to get yourself back to playing'."

Oliver and Brayshaw have become bonafide stars in the Demons' rise to prominence, sealed when they qualified for their first finals series in 12 years.

Petracca suffers, in some ways, because of the extreme hype about him and subsequent expectation, but is quietly putting together a strong campaign.

Only Brownlow medallists Dustin Martin and Patrick Dangerfield averaged at least 25 disposals, one goal and 1.5 score assists per game in the home and away season.

Petracca's respective numbers this year are 20.4, 0.9 and 1.4, which are bumped up to 21.1, one and 2.1 since round 16.

The 22-year-old is starting to provide evidence to back up the answers he gave Melbourne's recruiters four years ago.

So where Petracca has been a breath of fresh air for the Demons, they, too, have been good for him, as dual All Australian ruckman Max Gawn illustrated in his News Corp column.

"Footy is hard and there is a baseline level of competitiveness, professionalism and fitness that you have to reach," Gawn wrote.

"But footy would be a whole lot harder if you had to change your personality or use extra energy pretending to be a different person."