Young Dee's hopes high for AFL after good pre-season for McDonald

EMERGING Melbourne youngster Tom McDonald hopes to cement his place as one of the club’s premier defenders this AFL season.

McDonald, who was in town with teammates James Frawley and Dan Nicholson yesterday for the Ballarat Demons Supporters Group family day at Eureka Stadium, is keen to build on his breakout 2012 campaign, in which he played 20 games for the Dees.

The North Ballarat Rebels draftee hopes a full pre-season with the back-line division will hold him in good stead.

“Hopefully that leads in to a better season again, because it’s just a bit more time and continuity with these players like James Frawley, Lynden Dunn and Colin Garland, guys who I didn’t spend time with in the pre-season last year. Hopefully we gel a bit better this year and start taking it forward,” McDonald told The Courier.

Finals football was a goal for the Demons, said McDonald, but it’s an ambition that doesn’t have an immediate timeframe.

“We talk about being a top four side, but it’s not as though we have to do it this year,” he said. “Yes, it gets talked about, but not in terms of this is a make or break year in terms of making the finals.

“There’s definite confidence that we are moving forward. We had a big turnover in the list, which I think is a good thing. We’ve got fresh faces in, some good young kids and some older players that have brought heaps to the team, so we are really confident.

“The coaching group has been able to have the group for another year and I think we are moving pretty quickly in a good direction, but it’s hard to say when we are not playing games. It’s just pre-season at the moment.”

McDonald said he had enjoyed an injury-free preparation, which he hoped would continue through the Demons’ NAB Cup and regular-season campaigns.

Yesterday’s family day saw a large turnout of club supporters, including a number of youngsters for the free footy clinic.

The Ballarat Demons Supporters Group used the occasion to present Nicholson with its annual “most persistent” award for his efforts last season.