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McKenna ready for second crack

Matt Burgan  November 14, 2017 9:49 AM

Pat McKenna: Preseason Matt Burgan chats with Pat McKenna about his first week back in preseason
I’ve toiled away for a few years now and I would love to have a really solid pre-season and earn my spot in the senior team, and then hopefully play some consistent footy

MAKING his AFL debut, becoming a versatile option and remaining injury-free are at the top of Pat McKenna’s wish-list, speaking in the second week of his second pre-season with Melbourne.

McKenna, who crossed from the Giants at the end of the 2016 season, after being selected at No.23 in the 2014 NAB AFL Draft, missed most of the 2017 season with a hamstring injury.

The 21-year-old was sidelined from round three, after managing two intra club matches (an AFL and VFL hit-out), plus three practice matches with Casey.

But after returning with the first to four-year players on Monday, November 6, McKenna is building up his 2018 campaign steadily.

“It’s been good to get back into it. It’s been solid days, each day. I’m enjoying being back around the boys and being back in some good training,” he told melbournefc.com.au.

“I’m still in the rehab group, but we decided at the end of last season that we’d put me in the rehab group for the first few weeks of pre-season – just to tick off a few things.

“With the hamstring [injury] last season, we just wanted to make sure it was really strong and I’m hitting speed. Then I’ll hopefully be integrated into the main group over the next few weeks.”

McKenna, who previously captained the Australian under-19 cricket team in 2014, had an injury-interrupted season with GWS in 2015, before missing just one game with the Giants’ NEAFL team in 2016.

But his first season with the red and blue didn’t go to plan.

“It was a bit frustrating missing all of the games last season,” he said.

“You’re a footballer and you want to play, but being in rehab all year, I’ve worked on a lot of other aspects of my game. A lot of the coaches helped with my off-field development and learning the game.

“I was able to build strength elsewhere and hopefully now that I’ve got a good football body, this season I’ll be strong enough to avoid any big injuries like last season and [I] can have a pretty smooth ride.”

McKenna stayed local during his off-season break, visiting seaside town Torquay for a week, while spending the rest of his time in his hometown of Gisborne, in the Macedon Ranges.  

Now, he is determined to make the most of his pre-season and realise his dream since he entered the AFL almost four years ago. 

“I’ve toiled away for a few years now and I would love to have a really solid pre-season and earn my spot in the senior team, and then hopefully play some consistent footy. Hopefully I’ll get a full season in,” he said.

“I still don’t think I’m pigeon-holed in any certain spot.

“[I trained half-back last year and] I would like to explore a bit of wing and half-forward as well over the pre-season and hopefully make a bit of a spot of my own.”