“One of rarest things that a man ever does is to do the best he can.”
– Josh Billings (pen name of Henry Wheeler Shaw)
I was 10 years old when on 17th December 1967 at Cheviot Beach, Portsea as a boy scout on a weekend camp; fate dictated our group would be near the spot of the disappearance of the Prime Minister of Australia, Harold Holt. I will always remember the impact of that day, not least of which was witnessing for the first time helicopters flying around above me.
Forward 38 years and I’m again involved with 10 year olds coaching my son’s U10 football team. Little did I know that four members of that team would go on to become AFL draftees – Luke McDonald, Jack Billings in 2013 and Jack Sinclair, Hugh Beasley in 2014. Another AFL draftee (Jay Kennedy-Harris 2013) joined this junior team in U14s after becoming friends with Luke.
Five AFL draftees from the one junior football team. I reckon that has to be some sort of record. Our U10s lost the Grand Final and then went on to win three consecutive premierships. One of the boys’ favourite training drills was handballing around a 20m square both ways. Players would line up in equal numbers at each point of the square and start with one player handballing to a players moving off laterally from the next point of the square who would then handball to the next moving player and so on. Then a second ball would be introduced going in the opposite direction. Then a third going the other way. Then a fourth. The record was fifteen balls with 24 players.
I remember Luke’s Dad, Donald, arranging for 3 North Melbourne players to come down to training one night. Glenn Archer was one of them. He stood and watched the boys do their handball drill mesmerised. He told me there was no way his playing group could do that drill so cleanly and quickly.
Anyway, enough of the background. If Luke McDonald was a racehorse, his breeding would be attractive to buyers. His old man, Donald, played 155 games for North Melbourne, coached Werribee (VFL) to a premiership in 1993, coached Box Hill Hawks (VFL) to a premiership in 2001, and coached Hawthorn for 4 games in 2004 after Peter Schwab was sacked. An impressive pedigree but there’s been plenty of racehorses and footballers that have never emulated or bettered the feats of their lineage.
Fierceness, a ruthless approach, undiminished hunger for the contest and a relentless application to the task are traits that rarely seem to be genetic. In horseracing parlance, it is sometimes referred to as ‘having a heart the size of Phar Lap’. Luke McDonald is the most competitive football player I have coached or seen in junior football over 10+ years.
Luke McDonald’s attitude defines him as much as anything else. He’s a competitor in everything he does: he likes stopping opponents as a defender, and he just as much enjoys running off them, taking a few bounces and skipping up the ground. He has some breakaway speed, good aerobic ability, and he’s trusted with the ball. In 2013, he starred in his Werribee VFL debut with 27 disposals, then went through a quiet patch but hit form at the back-end of the year in the VFL finals, when he averaged 25 disposals across Werribee’s three games. He’s a good size to play in a few roles, is a nice mark, and plays well when it matters. He’s also a leader – he captained Vic Metro in 2013.
And I couldn’t help putting in a quote at the top from a Billings. Luke and Jack are best mates and Luke is one of that rare breed who always does the best he can.
|Games last season:||20 (+3 Finals)|
|Average last season:||66|
|100+ games last season:||0|
|Sub 80 games last season:||14|
|Price range last season:||$182K – $305k|
|Missed games last season:||3 (rounds 8, 17 & 23)|
|Significant history:||Drafted at pick 8 in the 2013 national draft (father-son selection)
Under 18 All Australian 2012 & 2013 (Captain)
Son of Donald McDonald (155 games for North Melbourne)
Ranked 1st amongst 2014 rising stars in Total Kicks
Ranked 1st amongst 2014 rising stars in Total Uncontested Possessions
Ranked 1st amongst 2014 rising stars in Total Rebound 50s
Ranked 1st amongst 2015 rising stars in Total Effective Disposals
3rd in 2014 NAB AFL Rising Star Award
Luke’s first AFL season this year was a good learning experience for him. His consistency was impressive, registering double-figure disposals in every appearance. He wore the vest once in Round 7, missed one game with a virus (Round 17) and was rested in the final round.
A further indication of his competitiveness is that his best games were arguably in the Kangaroos’ three finals appearances.
I have no doubt that Luke McDonald, barring mishaps, will be a 200+ game player. He’s one of those particularly valuable players that thrive on work, thrive on challenges, and thrive on pressure.
He is a mid-pricer and I doubt whether he will retain DPP in 2015 – not that I think it matters with him holding down a HBF.
Continued improvement should see Luke increase his SC points and he should be considered as a member of your defence as the Roos should be up in the top third next year.
- He’s already shown consistency in games played and stats.
- He will have got a lot of confidence out of his first season.
- Nothing but upside.
- He hasn’t posted a ton in SuperCoach yet but that’s only a matter of time.
Luke McDonald is definitely in my defender’s mix. How the Kangaroos perform and sort their line up out in the practise rounds will determine where I put him.
What’s your call on Luke McDonald in 2015?
|This article has been penned by an elite Supercoach analyst hand picked from the talent pool of the Jock Reynolds Fantasy Footy Community. He has stood up within our community as a man of fantasy substance, and has displayed the spirit of togetherness, positivity and community that we value significantly.|