POPULAR midfielder Jordie McKenzie says he’s determined to bounce back this year, after a tough 2014.

McKenzie, who has been a regular in recent years, played nine matches in 2014, after a foot injury interrupted the start of his year. Although his season had some frustrations, the respected run-with player is determined to capitalise on his strong pre-season.  

“I’m really looking forward to it. We’ve got a lot more depth at the club, particularly in the midfield. There is a lot of competition for spots, so it’s going to be challenging to squeeze into the side, but that’s the way it should be,” he told melbournefc.com.au.

“I’m looking forward to that challenge and all I can do is give [myself] that opportunity to be in that 22 each week. I reckon I can be and I’m doing everything to put my hand up to play each week.

“I’m looking forward to the challenge and I reckon I’m up to it. I’ve given myself a good base and it’s important that I keep getting better and play the role that I’m asked to each week. That’s what it comes back to – being able to play whatever role I’m given each week and not just doing it for one week. I’ve got to do it consistently.

“That’s going to be the challenge – to earn a spot in the side, and I’m really looking forward to getting into it.”

McKenzie said he was arguably the fittest he had been in his career. 

“So far, I’ve been able to build up a pretty good fitness base and I’m probably as fit as I’ve ever been in a long time – if not ever,” he said.

“It’s a really good launching pad, but it’s gone up a notch [compared] to previous years. We’ve got a lot of improvement still to climb up the ladder, but the attitudes of all of the boys this pre-season has been really good. This camp is a perfect [example] of that – they’re attacking anything that’s been thrown at them.”

Speaking at Melbourne’s pre-season camp in Maroochydore, McKenzie said the first week of the camp had been a success and he was looking forward to finishing strongly.

“It’s been really good. It’s good to spend a lot of time with all your good mates and we’re all attacking training really well,” he said.

“We’ve had a couple of challenging sessions so far, and it’s only going to ramp up from here as well.

“Everyone has been having a red hot crack, but there has been time to enjoy ourselves as well. We played nine holes of golf on Friday, as part of a team activity and that was good fun, so there has been a good balance of hard work and a few laughs as well.”

McKenzie said practicing the game plan and training in the heat were key things he had gained from the camp, plus building relationships.

“As we’re getting into a lot more football specific training and game simulated drills – so to be able to come up here and do that in the heat and humidity – I reckon you get a lot more out of it, even though it’s taxing on your body,” he said.

“A lot of benefits come from that, but we’ve also learned a lot by just being together as a whole team for a period of time. The extra contact hours have been really beneficial.

“Training in the heat has been another big benefit as part of being up here.”