There has been a touch of deja vu about this summer.

In many respects, my first few days in Melbourne have reminded me of when I was first drafted into the AFL by Gold Coast in 2013.

New city, new roads, new people… it has felt just like it did when I was 18, walking into Suns HQ for the first time.

That was six years ago now, and it’s crazy to think how quickly time has flown by.

The past two years have been particularly tough, as a string of abdominal and concussion-related issues have prevented me from taking the next step in my football journey.

It has been a source of frustration, and a key reason behind my request for a trade during the exchange period. For me, it wasn’t a change of scenery that I was ‘wanting’, but rather a change I was needing.

When I sat down with the Suns during my exit meeting, I was open and honest about my situation, and we both agreed that a fresh start was what I needed.

By moving on, I feel as though I have a chance to get back to my best.

The Suns gave me my start in this league, and I will be forever grateful for the opportunities I had during my time on the Gold Coast.

Of course, this new journey with the Melbourne Football Club has been incredibly exciting already, and I’m rapt that I’ve been able to take this next jump in my career alongside a familiar face.

In nearly all of my 78 games in the AFL, Steven May has been right beside me every step of the way.

There aren’t too many others that know my game better than ‘Maysie’.

During my time with the Suns he was the anchor of our backline, and just like myself, enjoys rebounding the ball through the middle of the corridor.

When Maysie was elevated from a vice-captain to skipper alongside Tom Lynch in the span of 12 months, it wasn’t a surprise to any of us.

He has always been a tremendous leader – what always impressed me most during our days in Queensland, was when Maysie spoke, players listened. His voice weren’t just words – he was great at conveying messages that resonated with the group. He always knew what to say and when to say it.

I feel like Maysie always had to play under enormous expectations at Gold Coast, due to the status he held amongst the playing group.

Gary Ablett is embraced by Gold Coast Suns captains Tom Lynch & Steven May
GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA – JULY 01: Tom Lynch, Gary Ablett and Steven May of the the Suns celebrate winning the round 15 the Gold Coast Suns and the North Melbourne Kangaroos at Metricon Stadium on July 1, 2017 in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Now, I feel like the shackles are off and he will be able to play with a new-found freedom he’s never had.

He’s upbeat, he’s more energetic – he just seems to be in a really good space.

No doubt last year would have been a difficult year for him, as he was determining what his long-term future looked like beyond 2018, but I’m pleased to know he is happy with where he’s at now.

Personally, I feel as though that has also helped with my own transition this pre-season.

Melbourne has such a tremendous culture here – since the day I walked through the doors, I have genuinely felt as though I belonged. It is such a tight-knit playing group, and they really make you feel welcomed from the get-go.

What excites me most for Maysie, is I genuinely feel as though fans and supporters of our game haven’t seen enough of him.

Which seems odd to me, given he has been an AFL captain for two years, but being a rugby league heartland, Queensland doesn’t enjoy the same level of exposure as other traditional football states.

In my eyes Maysie is the best defender in the game, and I think this year, Maysie will no longer fly under the radar.

For the past five years, his toughest opponent was arguably the forward he was manning at training every week in Tom Lynch.

Now that he is here in Melbourne, I think everyone is going to take notice pretty quickly.

We’ve had discussions about it, ever since we were first traded to the Demons.

I still remember the hundreds of messages both Maysie and I received from Demons’ members, fans and supporters when we arrived via the trade period.

You quickly realise how important football is to the supporters, and how proud they are of you to pull on the Melbourne jumper, which is only enhanced once you learn about the history of the club.

Every time I go into the change rooms, I see all the names on the back of the lockers – the tens and thousands of players that have strapped on the boots for one of the oldest clubs in Melbourne.

It truly is a special feeling being here at Melbourne, and I can’t wait for the day when Maysie and I can walk out together onto the MCG.