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Melbourne Football Club

Q&A with Tom McDonald

How are you finding it all?
TM:  Really good.  It’s been very busy, but I’ve really enjoyed the season so far in the VFL.  It’s been pretty good so far, but the loss last week was a bit of a downer.  I’ve really enjoyed playing out at Casey - it’s been good fun, and obviously the AFL boys are starting to get a couple of wins together now, so it always makes it a bit better when you’re winning, I guess.

Is it everything you expected it to be?
  It is - it’s very different to how people might build it up in their heads, but the professionalism is exactly what I thought it would be.  It’s a professional environment, so it’s structured, and everything’s got purpose behind it.  It’s nothing like country footy, and it’s nothing like people would think it is.  It’s AFL football, and everyone’s getting the best out of themselves. 

It’s a bit more than six months since you’ve been here, but not quite a year - can you believe how quickly it’s gone?
It’s flown.  I can’t believe it’s been over six months.  Pre-season went so quickly, now we’ve played nearly half the games in the season.  It’s flown by, but I suppose once you get into finals it’s all worth it, and I’m looking forward to playing finals footy.

There have been pretty positive things about you - you’ve played NAB Cup, had a taste, impressed in Adelaide when you played there, you’ve been an emergency, so already you’ve achieved a couple of things.  Can you talk about what it’s been like to play NAB Cup, and then be on the cusp as an emergency?
  The NAB Cup was a bit of an eye opener - I found out what it was all about.  It was great fun, but it showed how far I have to get to be playing AFL football.  Then, to be named emergency was pretty exciting, really.  I definitely want to try and press for selection this year, but there are things I have to focus on before I get there, I guess.  I’ll definitely try and do all I can to put my hand up for playing senior footy this year.

When you were named emergency for the Essendon game, what was that like?  When you were named, the coaches obviously spoke to you in the lead up - what was it like?
  It was exciting - shows that you’re in the mix, I guess.  I didn’t take too much from it, just thought ‘yes, it’s a good sign’, and that I was going well.  But the next week after that, I’d have to try and play even better to get in the actual team, so I didn’t read too much into it.  I just thought it was a good step, but the next step is the biggest step.  It was exciting, but it didn’t really affect me other than that. 

Did Dean say much to you at the time?
  Not really.  I knew I should be playing VFL, so I was more worried about the VFL at the time, talking to Gotchy and Kelly O’Donnell about that week’s game in the VFL.  So I prepared and I came to the AFL game prepared and if I had to play I would, but I was more worried about the VFL game at the weekend. 

Who have you found has taken you under their wing since you’ve been here?
  From the coaching point, Kelly O’Donnell’s really good with helping out your individual game and skills and that part of it.  Being a key defender, I watch a few of the senior back line players, so I take a good look at Jared Rivers, and James Frawley and Colin Garland - they’re probably the three talls in the back line.  They’re all very different players, but I just try and take a look at different areas of their game that I can emulate.  Chippa’s competitiveness at training is very good to watch, and Col Garland prepares so well, and Riv just understands the game so well, so it’s very easy to learn from those three guys.

What about some of the other players?  I guess you form pretty close friendships?
  You tend to be close with the younger guys, so there’s Pickles - Michael Evans - I spend a fair bit of time with him, because he lives just down the road, so we drive to training together sometimes.  Troy Davis - another first year player - he plays in the back line as well, so we spend a bit of time together.  I played basketball, so I talk about the basketball with Wattsy every day.  It’s most of the younger guys that I spend a lot of time with.

I suppose footy takes up most of your time - are you doing any study?
  I’m doing the SEDA program, so I’m doing a personal training certificate.  I’ve deferred, but next year I’m going to Melbourne Uni for Commerce.  I’m sort of looking forward to it, but I’m a bit nervous about next year.  But I am looking forward to going to uni next year.  The personal training certificate will finish early next year - a lot of the young guys study that - and you can take on clients once you have that.

Is there anything else that you enjoy apart from football?
  Like I said before, I enjoy the basketball, so every couple of weeks, on our day off, I go down and play a bit of basketball at MSAC with a mate who I knew before footy, or I’ve played a couple of times with Jack Watts, and Steffy Martin once.  I usually come into the Club on my day off and get physio and massage done as well.  So it tends to be pretty busy, even on the day off.

Have you had a chance to head back home yet?
  I just went home for the first time in six months.  I went home and watched the local footy, and the guys - Edenhope-Apsley -  had a win, which was pretty exciting.  I got to see my family, too, but seeing the local footy was the best part of it!  We went out for dinner, and I got to see my brother and sister play football and netball on the weekend.