WHEN going on a trip, some people make sure to pack enough socks, others make sure to pack a good book.

Melbourne forward Tom McDonald made sure to pack his mini barbecue.

“Yeah, I packed that in my bag,” McDonald said.

“I got into a bit of trouble because it was sitting just inside the door, so I’ve had to take it outside just in case the smoke alarm was to go off.”

And although a barbecue may be an interesting choice, McDonald has discovered he’s not the only one with quirky habits inside the Perth hub.

Coach Simon Goodwin is making sure to get in his daily step-count, despite the limited space available in the hotel.

“You’ll see him every morning when you wake up,” McDonald said.

“Goody walking around the carpark trying to get his 10,000 steps in.

“He just does laps around a concrete carpark, which is the only area we’ve got other than the football oval.”

With all quirks aside, McDonald said the Demons were settling in well at the Joondalup accommodation, enjoying the opportunity to spend time with one another.

“It’s actually been fun to see all of the guys out of the club,” McDonald said.

“We’ve been able to go to training each day and find lots of different ways to keep ourselves entertained.”

The Demons are coming off an important 33-point win over Brisbane on Saturday night, earning themselves a spot in the Preliminary Final next weekend.

And while it was an exciting moment for the side, securing that spot in the next final, McDonald said they were all remaining focused on the next step ahead.

“There was a lot of excitement after the game,” McDonald said.

“But we were also aware we’d only won one final, so it was tempered.

“It was encouraging that we played such a good style of footy though.”

With a spot in the Preliminary Final secured, Melbourne was given a week off to recharge and refocus.

“We put ourselves in as good of a spot as we could, and we enjoyed a few days of less footy content,” McDonald said.

“Then today we were back to some real football training, and we had a good session.

“The work will really start to ramp up now.”

After a strong year and an equally strong Qualifying Final win, the external discussion around the club is, how does this year’s finals campaign compare to Melbourne’s 2018 finals campaign?

Having played in the 2018 finals, McDonald reflected on what he believed the key difference was.

“The style of play is different,” McDonald said.

“We used to have a hugely offensive game plan and we weren’t necessarily a very good defensive team.

“Whereas this year we’ve basically become the best defensive team across the league.”

And he’s not wrong.

Melbourne’s defence finished at the top of multiple statistics including leading the league in total intercepts, tackles and tackles inside 50.

But that’s not to disregard the impact of Melbourne’s forward line, who have also had a strong year on the scoreboard, McDonald himself collecting a total of 30 goals and averaging 14.3 disposals.

When reflecting on his season so far, the 28-year-old said his focus was working hard and playing his role for the team.

“It’s really about preparing physically, I did a lot of training and I feel like that put me in good stead to play well for most of this year,” McDonald said.

“For me it’s about continuing to play well, play well for this team and prove I’m a valuable member.

“And now it’s about making sure the team’s playing well and I’m doing my job to help that.”

Melbourne’s Preliminary Final will take place on Friday 10 September at Optus Stadium, with their opponent still to be determined following the result of the Geelong v GWS game on Friday 3 September.