FORMER Derrinallum footballer Daniel Nicholson is adamant battling Melbourne is headed in the right direction.
Demons officials yesterday elevated the 21-year-old running defender to their senior list for season 2013.
The promotion from the rookie list comes on the back of a breakout campaign for the third-year Demon.
He played 11 of the final 14 rounds — missing rounds 19 to 21 with a broken jaw — to take his games tally to 20.
Nicholson, who has also signed a new two-year contract, said he was rapt the club and first-year coach Mark Neeld had shown faith in him.
He said he was pleased he could cement his spot in the young side during the second half of the season.
“I had a few hiccups with injuries throughout the season. Once I got my spot halfway through the year I kept it before I broke my jaw,” he said.
“Other than that I was happy with the year.
“With a new coaching staff, especially Jade Rawlings and Andrew Nichol, they’ve come in and done a lot of work with me to develop my whole game.”
Melbourne jointly announced it would elevate Nicholson and Michael Evans — who are coincidentally housemates in Kew — to the senior list.
It plucked the pair out of the 2010 rookie draft, using pick 14 on Nicholson and pick 31 on Evans.
“We’ll celebrate over a few waters and maybe some ice-cream,” Nicholson said.
Rookies James Magner and Tom Couch — the son of former Warrnambool and Geelong footballer Paul Couch — have also committed to another year.
Nicholson said Melbourne was “a great young club” and Neeld had been a good appointment as coach.
He was confident the Demons would improve on their 4-18 record and 16th-place finish from 2012.
“At the end-of-season review we looked at our rounds in two blocs — rounds one to 11 and 12 to 22,” he said.
“We went through a whole heap of key stats. They showed us the areas we were improving and we were sitting in the top eight for a lot of areas.
“It was good to see that progress as we learn and develop the game plan.
“We had one coach that was already at the club previously at the start of the year in Brian Royal. Other than that, every other coach was new. It was always going to take time to adapt to each other and learn each other’s styles. It’s slowly coming together.”
Nicholson began his football career with Mininera District league club Lismore-Derrinallum. He shifted to Ballarat to board at St Patrick’s College, and played football with the school, East Ballarat and University Blues before being drafted.
Melbourne started pre-season training on Monday.
“If I can start from round one and string some games together, that’ll be a good start. That’s the short-term goal,” Nicholson said.