MELBOURNE defender Tom McDonald has made AFL forwards take note. Now his efforts have been officially recognised.
The former North Ballarat Rebel was yesterday announced the round 13 AFL Rising Star nominee.
McDonald was among the Demons’ best in a 78-point win against Greater Western Sydney on Sunday, nullifying much-hyped young gun Jonathon Patton, the 2011 number one AFL draft pick. In a chance to step up, with starting defenders Jared Rivers and Colin Garland up forward, McDonald collected 26 possessions, four marks and three tackles.
Melbourne coach Mark Neeld said McDonald, in his second season, had worked hard to cement his spot.
McDonald was promoted to AFL ranks in round two and has kept his place since.
“He is getting the rewards for having an outstanding pre-season,” said Neeld.
“We have exposed him to a number of different types of forwards this year and he is improving each week.”
The 19-year-old, a former Edenhope-Apsley junior, caught attention early last month when given a last-minute, massive assignment on St Kilda captain Nick Riewoldt.
McDonald kept the Saints’ skipper to 13 disposals and two goals while picking up 19 touches of his own.
He worked with Demons’ back-line coach Jade Rawlings to carefully plot how to take on Patton.
“I knew I was going to be playing on him most of the day if they went in the way we planned they would. I knew his strengths were his contested marking and his body work,” McDonald told
“Jade Rawlings and I had a bit of a plan of how we would attack that and go about it and what I could do to help the team. I really set myself for it and thought I did my job after quarter-time. I gave him a goal in the first quarter which was frustrating but I was happy with how I worked through it.”
McDonald was drafted to Melbourne as a key forward at pick 53 in the 2010 AFL national draft.
He arrived from the Rebels, where he played as a versatile key position player.
This was how Melbourne also developed him last year with the Demons’ Victorian Football League partner Casey.
McDonald’s impressive speed and endurance was his strength in his time in the Rebels’ TAC Cup program and such traits shone in a solid pre-season for the Dees last summer.
McDonald has played 13 AFL matches, including 11 this year.