WHEN Alipate Carlile was dropped from Port Adelaide's side last season because of poor fitness, it was an embarrassing wake up call.
Then coach Matthew Primus said 'Bobby' had fallen behind the club's fitness expectations and would have to meet them if he wanted his spot in the Power's defence back.
The 25-year-old spent two weeks in the SANFL with South Adelaide before re-joining his AFL teammates, but the club's statement had been made.
Carlile said that embarrassment had driven him through the pre-season and, on the eve of the Power's first trial match with Port Adelaide Magpies on Friday night, he was in top condition.
"I definitely had a little bit of a chip on my shoulder about what happened last year, but we've all gotten past that and the boys have kept me on my toes this pre-season,"Carlile said.
"It's been good this year, I've been able to get through all of it.
"Having Darren Burgess (high performance manager) at the helm is something we can have confidence in that he's going to do the right thing by everyone and push us to the limits.
"He's brought a lot of direction and given us goals to hit and really pushed us through the running sessions."
Like so many of the Power's players, Carlile praised the arrival of Burgess from English Premier League giants Liverpool as a huge coup and said the intensity of training sessions had noticeably increased.
The defender said players at Alberton had also ensured the pre-season continued to be the toughest ever.
"I thought last year was hard, but it just got harder again – the game just keeps evolving and you've got to evolve with it," Carlile said.
"We've all been driving each other which has been a good attitude from the boys."
With the departure of Troy Chaplin to Richmond in last October's free agency period, Carlile became a senior player in the Power's back six.
Along with Jackson Trengove, Carlile is expected to play a vital role in 2013, but he said there were several others who had impressed over the summer.
"Obviously with the new look (defence)(defence) going to be we have to come together pretty quickly and try and get together through the NAB Cup, but the boys have been training really well," Carlile said.
"Jackson Trengove's come a long way, he's gotten through all of the pre-season as well and there's been six or seven blokes down there that we could name, but Jackson's been a stand out with his voice and leadership across the ground.
"Even Jasper Pittard's gotten through it all which is another big tick for him because he's a really exciting player and someone we need to get the ball in his hands."
Harry Thring is a reporter for AFL Media. Follow him on Twitter: @AFL_Harry