Player Of The Week
Round 11 Brisbane v West Coast
Big Beau McDonald played an integral part in the Lions winning streak alongside fellow ruckman Clark Keating. He talks below about season 2001 and his form.
BEAU McDONALD PLAYER OF THE WEEK
The Lions have had a handful of unsung heroes during their five-game winning stretch and one of them is big ruckman Beau McDonald.
The ruck battery consisting of McDonald and Clark Keating have not lowered their colours in that time, and have provided the red-hot Lions midfield with a glut of ball at bouncedowns.
There was plenty of conjecture pre-season about who would assume the No.1 ruckman mantle, with McDonald coming off an impressive 2000 and matchwinner Keating returning from long-term injury.
But it would appear the two have become equals in 2001.
They are sharing half a quarter each, unless one has been particularly dominant on the day or night.
McDonald certainly came into his own in the Round 11 game against West Coast in Perth. With lone Eagles ruckman Michael Gardiner threatening to tear the game apart, McDonald went on and swung the momentum back in the Lions favour.
He had missed the Essendon blockbuster with a dicey hamstring, but showed no lingering effects on the ice cold Perth evening.
McDonald and Keating combined to nullify leading Melbourne ruckman Jeff White the following week, overwhelmed Brett OFarrell and last weeks best-on-ground Nathan Thompson against Hawthorn, and then tag-teamed in-form Saint Peter Everitt out of last weeks match.
So McDonald earns the focus today as the Lions Website Player of the Week.
Still only 21, McDonald now has 41 senior games under his belt. They say ruckmen mature later than other players, but if that is the case, the big man from the Swan Valley in WA has got an excellent head start.
He admitted carrying the ruck through the first half of last year and then sharing duties with Trent Knobel through the last 10 games had been a great experience.
Last year was a big learning curve, whereas this year I know how to get myself through game, McDonald said. Last year I learnt everything along the way, I suppose, so this year was going to be a little bit easier with that experience. Its been good.
He added that sharing duties with Keating had not even required an adjustment.
No, not really, he said. When I was playing last year I always shared it with Nobes (Trent Knobel), so theres no real difference.
Its just a matter of getting the intensity when you come off the bench and stepping straight into the game. But its certainly a little bit different to playing the whole game yourself.
McDonald admitted he had enjoyed tackling the likes of Everitt and White in recent weeks, and even former mentor Matthew Clarke, who had one of his quietest games of the year for the Adelaide Crows against the Lions in Round 9.
You always do its a real test for yourself coming up against the really good players, he said.
The focus last week was just trying to nullify Everitt, and if he does nothing then its a win for me. Thats a lot easier than going out and getting kicks yourself.
I suppose when you are the gun (player) youve always got someone trying to take you out of the game, so its a bit difficult for him. But I enjoyed it and it was a good challenge.
One area where both Keating and McDonald looked good at times last week was their marking. McDonald took two strong, pack marks and Keating took several good ones among his six, which matched Everitts total.
Ive been working on my marking and doing a lot of hands work its a factor of my game where I would like to be taking a lot more marks around the ground, McDonald said.
He has also been effective when venturing near goal, booting six straight for the season, including several good snaps off packs.
They just seemed to have fallen in my hands, he said. I used to snag a few down in the forward line (in the juniors). I just seemed to be in the right spot at the right time and was lucky enough to get a couple of goals.
This week represents another big challenge for the ruck patrol, with Collingwoods team of Steven McKee and Josh Fraser one reason for their rise up the ladder this season.
There is plenty of doubt about whether the brilliant young Fraser plays, but McDonald hopes he does.
I dont have a clue whether he will play or not, but it would certainly be good if he does play. You definitely like to beat the better Collingwood side than winning with a few guys out. Well see what happens there, he said.
McKees been good, hes stepped up this year. Crackers and I are going to have to be on the ball.
It is going to be a big game and a test for the club.
Because he missed the blockbuster against Essendon, his only blemish this season, one might have thought McDonald would have been itching for action especially against the Magpies.
No, not really, I look forward to every game every week no matter who were playing, he said, typical of his enthusiasm for the game. But I am looking forward to playing at the MCG because we dont get the opportunity to play there very often.