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Melbourne Football Club

McDonald around mark for top defenders

I think I’m around the mark, but maybe not in front of them (Rance, Talia and Tarrant), but my favourite player in the league is actually Jeremy McGovern, so I like what he does
Tom McDonald

TOM McDonald says he rates Richmond’s Alex Rance as the best key backman in the competition, but hopes he is around the mark as the top tall defenders in the game.

Speaking on 1116 SEN, McDonald listed a handful of key defenders as the best in the business.  

“I think Rancey is No.1,” he said.

“[Adelaide’s Daniel] Talia is probably up there as well, but he’s not as offensive as Rance, but in terms of his defensive stuff, I reckon [North Melbourne’s] Robbie Tarrant would be around the mark as well after last year.

“I think I’m around the mark, but maybe not in front of them, but my favourite player in the league is actually [West Coast’s] Jeremy McGovern, so I like what he does.”

Meanwhile, McDonald said he expected younger brother Oscar to keep making strong inroads in 2017, after showing promise last year.

“He didn’t set the world on fire in the AFL for a little while, which is hard to expect guys to do,” he said.

“I remember in my second year of senior footy, you’re skinny and you’re outmatched and you’re learning what’s happening all at the same time and we weren’t a dominant team – we were playing well midway through last year.

“After six, seven or eight games, I reckon he got the feel of it a lot better and he actually started to take the game on. He had confidence to go for his marks and we started to see that towards the end of the year.

“I think his pre-season has been really good. He’s put on four or five kilos and looks physically stronger, but he had a really down game on the weekend, which just wasn’t him.

“I think for him, he’s going to have to learn to play [on the road] and what it’s like in Perth, when you’re travelling two days before and you’re stuck in a hotel room – how does that differ to being in Melbourne where he’s got his lovely girlfriend and he can prepare the way he wants to. It is tough though, when you go away from home and play on the road, so learning that will help his consistency.”

McDonald said second-year midfielder Clayton Oliver was a player to watch in 2017, as he was capable of producing things few could do on the field.  

“I’m pretty excited by him. He does some things that are incredible,” he said.

“I haven’t seen people pick up ground balls, be tackled and then flick it over his head and hit someone on the run, 10 metres behind him on his left ear.

“He does some amazing things, but it’s the same thing for him, as it is for Oscar and Christian [Petracca] and those guys – it’s about learning to do it every week. I think they’re getting much better at that, but it is tough, when you are learning how to prepare and play the game.”

As for the possibility of playing Max Gawn and Jake Spencer in the same side, McDonald backed the ruckmen to play against St Kilda at Etihad Stadium in round one.

“I think there is a good chance they will [both play]. Jake has does an amazing job – he was able to kick three goals on the weekend [against West Coast] and he gives us competitiveness in the ruck at all times,” he said.

“Without him, we go to Jack Watts or there was even talk of me playing in the ruck.

“We don’t really know what we’re doing or we’re undersized and it is tough to do that, so Jake at least gives us that presence all game, if Max isn’t in there.”