New Demon: Draft recruit Jack Viney tries a tackle on Leigh Brown at Melbourne training. Photo: Wayne Taylor
MELBOURNE coach Mark Neeld on Monday denied the AFL's investigation into the Demons' alleged tanking would affect the club's preparations for next season.
As the club officially unveiled its latest crop of draftees, Neeld said the football department remained largely oblivious to, and unconcerned by, the ramifications of the tanking saga.
''From my point of view it's an investigation into something that allegedly happened four years ago,'' he said.
''We're training for 2013. The club line is that if there is an investigation, we welcome that, and if there's something to answer at the end of it, we'll have an opportunity to answer it then.
''I still can't believe that anyone would be able to say that the training session you just saw was affected by some investigation into something which allegedly happened four years ago.''
Neeld said that he'd been relying on Fairfax Media's coverage of the issue to keep up to date with the latest developments.
''I've got more information out of reading the back page of The Age than what I have talking to anyone here,'' he said.
''We hear some things and read some things, but we don't have time to sit down and go through it all. Our job is to prepare for 2013 and beyond, and that's what we're doing.
''Working inside a footy club, it's about that day, that session, and then you review it then look at the next session.''
Neeld, speaking after Melbourne completed a hard training session which included plenty of match practice and ball work, said neither he nor the club felt any extra pressure after a shocking 2012 season when the Demons won just four games, and only two of the first 17.
''There's always going to be external things said, and that's fine,'' he said. ''We're on a long-term objective to make sure the way we're coaching players is on our terms. We want to coach them a certain way.
''We want to help [draftee] Jimmy Toumpas come in and have a 10 to 12-year career, so we'll do it slowly.
''The world knows when you get up to the pointy end and you're playing in premierships, most sides [have players who have played] around the 100-game mark, and we're far away from that, so we've just got to make sure it's time spent really well.''
Toumpas was one of four draftees introduced to the media, both he and Dean Terlich already premiership players at SANFL level. Toumpas, picked at No. 4 last week, played in Woodville-West Torrens' flag last year at the age of 17. Terlich, 22, won the Jack Oatey medal for best on ground in Norwood's grand final win over West Adelaide this year.
Neeld said he believed the mature-age Terlich, a rebounding defender, could play senior football immediately. ''We think he can play straight away; lovely skills and a player who has a history of playing well in big games,'' he said.
Matt Jones is an even more mature pick-up, coming into the club from VFL club Box Hill at the age of 25. And another draftee, long-kicking Western Australian midfielder Dean Kent, is also a medallist, having won the Jack Clarke medal for best player in the WA Colts.