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Melbourne Football Club

McKenna a top catch for Melbourne

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 07:  Pat McKenna of the Demons handballs during a Melbourne Demons AFL pre-season training session at Gosch's Paddock on November 7, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia.  (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images/AFL Media)
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 07: Pat McKenna of the Demons handballs during a Melbourne Demons AFL pre-season training session at Gosch's Paddock on November 7, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images/AFL Media)
I’m really impressed [by the club] to be honest. I had two weeks here now and they’re driven and they’ve got a big emphasis on culture and development, which is going to be really good for me
Pat McKenna

MELBOURNE recruit Pat McKenna says he had quickly settled into the red and blue way of life. 

The former Giant, who joined Melbourne during the recent trade period, after two years with Greater Western Sydney, said he was delighted to return to his native state after being drafted by GWS at No.23 in the 2014 NAB AFL Draft.

“I’m really impressed [by the club] to be honest. I’ve had two weeks here now and they’re driven and they’ve got a big emphasis on culture and development, which is going to be really good for me,” he told Melbourne TV.  

“I’ve settled in already and it’s a great bunch [of people], so I’m really happy to be here.

“My parents helped me out a lot in coming back smoothly and finding a place and setting it up. I’ve settled into a place, here in Melbourne again, and I’m really enjoying it.”

McKenna was fully aware of Melbourne’s interest in him, when he was in the draft mix two years ago. And he was aware of the club’s continued interest since.

“I remember coming down [to Gosch’s Paddock] and running a time-trial and that was pretty memorable. I’m just lucky that they followed me through my time up in Sydney and that they wanted me back down here, so they gave me another chance in the AFL, so I’m really glad and thankful,” he said.

“[After] the odd chat to my manager – I thought that they might be [still interested in me], but until the season ended, [we] didn’t really pursue too much external interest. [It wasn’t] until trade came around, they (Melbourne) put their hand up and [I’m] very happy.

“It was pretty late [in the trade period] and I hadn’t heard much and it was pretty quiet. Then the second last day, Melbourne came through with an offer and I was in Bali at the time and I thought it was the best move for my footy. I grabbed that with both hands and now we’re here.”

A versatile player, who can play half-back, wing and half-forward, McKenna is a good decision-maker and user of the ball. He said he could see several similarities between the Melbourne and GWS list.

“There is a lot of young talent,” he said.

“I’d say it was very similar and a very exciting list and lots of talent as well.

“I don’t see any reason why Melbourne can’t do what the Giants did last year and really make that leap from middle of the road into top six or top four contention and really give September a tilt.”

The former Australian under-19 cricket captain – he led the team against Sri Lanka in Colombo, September/October 2014 – said it was a great experience, but his love of football got the better of him.

“It was a good opportunity to go to Sri Lanka and play cricket over there,” the former batsman and part-time off-spinner said.

“Over there, that tour was a long tour and I thought it wasn’t for me, cricket.

“I was a long way from home and I thought footy was more of an option for me.

“[I] wanted to give that a crack and I do enjoy the game (footy) a bit more, so I thought cricket was my go.”

Despite being an elite underage Australian player, McKenna didn’t think he let his Australian opportunity slip, even though his former under-19 teammate and new Australian opening batsman Matt Renshaw is set to debut against South Africa in the upcoming third Test in Adelaide on Thursday.

“There was a bit of a shake-up [to the Australian Test team], but maybe if they dropped 20 or 30 blokes I could’ve [got a call-up], but I don’t think so,” he said with a smile.

“I did play with Matt Renshaw over in Sri Lanka and I thought he would’ve made it eventually, but it was a bit of a shock that he’s in there now.

“But best of luck to him, I hope he goes out there and makes some runs.”