Meditation and family FaceTime calls are helping to settle Jake Lever, who will enter the AFL premiership decider as the only Melbourne player with previous grand final experience.
Lever has become a star for the Demons, having switched allegiances shortly after playing in Adelaide’s losing 2017 grand final side.
But he’s had to navigate a rocky path to the historic Perth showdown, missing out on the Demons’ 2018 finals run because of a knee injury which also limited him to eight games the following season.
As he prepares to return to the game’s biggest stage, Lever doesn’t hesitate when asked what’s stayed with him from that day in 2017.
“Just how hard it is to win,” he said before Melbourne’s training session in Joondalup on Tuesday.
“If you look at 2017, Adelaide were probably the favourites going in and you almost start to imagine what it’s like and everything like that.
“For me, I’ve really tried to stay in the moment this time.
“It was a little bit of a different build-up last time … we travelled to Melbourne and my family lived in Melbourne at the time. It’s obviously super hard to stay focused.
“But this time, with the circumstances that we have right now, it’s been quite unique but it’s been pretty nice to be able to just relax and really stay focused.”
Lever still gets tense before every single game, although the nerves don’t usually start jangling until a couple of hours before the opening bounce.
But having become a father and gotten married since making the move to Melbourne, the 25-year-old is finding it easier to stay grounded these days.
“I love my meditation. I’ve been doing that for about three years now,” he said.
“I love going in the beach so when we were in the two weeks quarantine it was bloody hard to sit in the hotel room.
“I’ve got two kids and a wife back home. Speaking to them every day really grounds me and almost takes me back to just being grounded and not focusing too much on the game.”
Lever said his teammates, some of whom were “a little bit edgy” during the bye last week, have also settled as they begin to prepare in earnest for Saturday’s premiership decider against the Western Bulldogs.
The Demons will have their main training session behind closed doors at Optus Stadium on Wednesday, with Charlie Spargo (ankle) and Steven May (hamstring) set to prove their fitness.
Both were involved during Tuesday’s lighter session at HBF Arena, with Lever confident his fellow All-Australian and backline partner May is ready to play.
“He’s going really well,” Lever said.
“He’s hit all his markers, obviously didn’t do any of the match play on Saturday but that was the plan.
“I think it’s really important for him to be able to be confident in his body. Once he is, he’s a pretty good player.”Internet Explorer Channel Network