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Melbourne Football Club

Dees treat Dogs clash like round one

Tom McDonald interview Tom McDonald speaks with Matt Burgan on Friday before Melbourne's training session

DEFENDER Tom McDonald says Melbourne is treating Saturday’s NAB Challenge clash against the Western Bulldogs like the opening round of the home and away season.

McDonald said it was important the Demons make the most of their opportunities leading into the season proper.

“The main focus for us is to treat it like it’s a round one game,” he told Dee TV.

“We don’t have the luxury of really rolling into the season, so we’re going to build a pretty strong side and we’re going out there to win, so it’s going to be really important for us.

“It is a preparation game, but we’re going to get as much out of it as we can.”

Looking back on Melbourne’s first NAB Challenge match against Fremantle at Fremantle Oval, which it lost to the home side by 18 points, McDonald said the players had rebounded strongly.

“We had nine days in between games because it was a Thursday last week and then it’s a Saturday this weekend. We were pretty happy with our performance over there,” he said.

“Apart from the second quarter, I thought we were really solid. The second quarter was pretty poor.

“I think a lot of the things we’ve been working on came out in the game, which was good to see, because you want to show that you’ve improved over the pre-season to the supporters. We thought it was a pretty solid first hit out.”

McDonald said he was particularly impressed with recruits Heritier Lumumba and Sam Frost in their first hit out for the club last week.

“I thought Lumumba did a lot of good things for us, especially when things were going backwards for us in the second quarter – he really steadied the ship for us,” he said.

“I really like Sam Frost’s game, when he came down back. He’s done most of his training down back in the pre-season, but he started up forward, so it was a bit new to him.

“He really looked comfortable when he came down back in the second half and I really enjoyed his game.”

McDonald said the return of Jack Viney and Jack Watts was important for the side.  

“Wattsy has had little niggles in the pre-season with groin issues, so for him, it’s been a long road to get back into playing a game,” he said.

“He’s just a fun guy and everyone loves playing with him. He’s really excited and you can just tell by the way he’s talking this week that he’s looking forward to being back out there.

“And I think most people know what Viney’s like – he’s bull-at-the-gate and flat out. I think last week would’ve killed him – not being able to play. But he’ll be raring to go this week.”

McDonald said he was looking forward to returning to Ballarat, where he spent some time as a teenager. 

“It’ll be good. It’s like my second home. I went to boarding school in Ballarat for a year and played a fair bit of footy at Eureka Stadium, so it’ll be the first time I’ve played there in a while,” he said.

“Hopefully it’s not cold like it normally was when I was back there in the winter.

“I really enjoy Ballarat and I’m looking forward to getting back there and hopefully I’ll see a few familiar faces.”