Aaron Black has moved to set the record straight about reports he requested a trade to Fremantle at the end of the 2015 season.
The athletic forward had a tough year and although he admitted being ‘stuck in a rut’, he told NMFC.com.au he never demanded to be sent west or anywhere else.
“It gets put out in the media like that … It’s good from my point of view that I can get it out and let people know that I didn’t go in there and tell them (North Melbourne) I wanted out because it definitely wasn’t like that.
“I never demanded a trade or anything like that … (I) just felt if there was another opportunity at another club, we might look at it. I never had an intention to walk in there and say ‘I want a trade’. I never did that and I wanted (to do) the right thing by North.
“If it didn’t work for North or the other club, then we wouldn’t do it.
“Just the way the club handled the whole situation was spot on.”
In fact, Black said he felt relieved when he was told no deal could be struck.
“It was a weight off my shoulders,” he said.
“I felt refreshed after that. I felt really good … (it was) probably the hardest I’ve ever trained in the off season and I felt determined to get back out there and prove what I can do.
“I always see myself playing for North.”
After 25 games in 2014, Black played just three last season and is under no illusions as to why he fell out of favour.
“My output throughout the year probably wasn’t where it need to be,” he said.
Black revealed he’d become too comfortable and simply expected to be selected despite having to overcome post-season shoulder surgery.
“I guess at periods I might have had that mentality … (there was) a bit of wanting to play the game as well. When you’re playing in the twos, sometimes you get stuck there and you just get stuck in the groove of just rolling out each week … motivation kind of dropped off a little bit for myself last year.
“I wasn’t confident in myself to go out and perform at a level that I know I’m capable of … (I) got stuck in a rut.
“A lot of players go through it and you’ve just got to see the light at the end of the tunnel I guess.”
The 25-year-old has vowed not fall into the same trap this year and is willing to fight tooth and nail for his spot back in the club’s best 22.
“I’m hungry,” he said.
“I’m hungry to get back out and play AFL footy. I got stuck playing in the VFL last year and it’s not where I want to play. I know that I can play at AFL level.
“I feel really refreshed and happy moving forward. I’ve got that excitement for footy back and can’t wait to start the season again.”
With 50 AFL games under his belt, Black knows he has the full support of the club including coach Brad Scott to improve his tally and become a genuine player.
“Scotty’s behind me and has quite often told me that I’ve just got to play good enough, train good enough and I’ll be back in the AFL side so it’s up to me now and I’m ready for that.”
With a bevy of key position players to compete with including Jarrad Waite, Drew Petrie and Ben Brown, Black knows he simply won’t waltz back into the lineup.
“The good thing is, pre-season, there’s no set team or anything like that and we’re all literally fighting for NAB Cup and then for round one so it’s pretty exciting.”
Black is contracted until the end of 2017.