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Melbourne Football Club

McDonald provides new-found flexibility

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 19: Tom McDonald of the Demons celebrates a goal with teammates during the 2015 AFL round 16 match between the Melbourne Demons and the Brisbane Lions at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne, Australia on July 19, 2015. (Photo by Adam Trafford/AFL Media)
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 19: Tom McDonald of the Demons celebrates a goal with teammates during the 2015 AFL round 16 match between the Melbourne Demons and the Brisbane Lions at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne, Australia on July 19, 2015. (Photo by Adam Trafford/AFL Media)

COACH Paul Roos says Tom McDonald’s ability to play up forward gives the Demons new-found flexibility to their side.  

Speaking post-match after Melbourne’s 24-point win over the Brisbane Lions at the MCG on Sunday, Roos said McDonald, who booted two goals, impressed in attack, after being moved there in the final term the previous round.

“It was a bit of a stab in the dark last week [against Essendon] at three quarter-time to try and get back in the game and he was able to generate something,” he said.

“Today (Sunday) was a bit more methodical. We spoke to him about it late in the week and we planned for it a little bit more. It certainly helped Dawesy (Chris Dawes) and Hoges (Jesse Hogan) as well.

“He’s a very good athlete as we know, and he looked like he had some natural instincts. I think he played mainly forward as a kid as well, so he looked very good today and then we put him behind the ball, because he’s got good defensive actions as well. So he was a pretty important player for us today.”

Roos said it remained to be seen where to play McDonald in the coming weeks.

“I don’t know. In the short term we’d probably start him again forward, but I think he’s the sort of player that can help us either end,” he said.

“We haven’t normally played an extra defender this year but we did in the second half, for the last 15 minutes in the second quarter and a bit in the last.

“He was able to do that and read the ball really well, so it gives you another dimension to your game also.”

Roos said his midfield was also important in the win over the Lions.

"Jack [Viney] has been really good and we missed Vanders (Aaron vandenBerg) when he was out for a while,” he said.

“I think the really positive signs for us are Bernie [Vince] and Nathan [Jones], when they’re doing it really well as they have been. They’ve become really good role models for our young mids – [Angus] Brayshaw, [Jack] Viney, [Dom] Tyson and VB.

“Definitely, I thought the pressure was really good. Both teams I thought tackled really well and were pretty hard at the contest. So certainly that group are getting better at being consistent in that part of the game.”

Roos praised his younger brigade, but said they needed to be managed carefully.

“You have to be mindful of the young guys. Alex Neal-Bullen was the sub today and Jay [Kennedy-Harris] hasn’t played a lot,” he said.

“Billy [Stretch] looked really tired and did a terrific job, so it’s probably managing that group as well as rewarding our VFL Casey team, who are going really well.

“It’s also rewarding players who are playing well in the seconds.”