Big night for McDonald's 50th game
Wed 19 September, 2001

Important young Lions ruckman Beau McDonald is hoping he will take away fond memories of his 50th AFL game in Saturday night’s do-or-die Preliminary Final against Richmond at the Gabba.
Drafted as a long-term prospect at the end of 1997, McDonald has advanced for more quickly than anticipated and has developed into a key part of the side’s best 22.
Still only 21, McDonald was drafted from the Swan Districts colts in Perth to
join the Lions as selection No.73. He was the Lions’ 5th pick in that National Draft behind Luke Power (5), Shane O’Bree (10), Simon Black (31), Scott Ralph (51) and Marcus Picken (58).
He made his AFL debut in 1998, and played three games in each of ’98 and ’99, and took over as the club’s No.1 ruckman last year when Clark Keating was sidelined by injury.
McDonald played 22 games in 2000, when he was judged Lions ‘Rookie of the Year’, and finished 3rd overall in the AFL’s Norwich Rising Star Award.
He has played 21 of a possible 23 games this year, and in tandem with Keating, has not lowered his colours to anybody during the Lions’ 14-game winning streak.
McDonald faces more time in the ruck this week with the possibility of Keating spending time in a forward role due to the absence of ace goalkicker Alastair Lynch.
“It would be good if I get that opportunity,” McDonald said. “If Crackers goes forward and takes a few marks, that would be good.”
While Keating has booted 14 goals this season, including hauls of 4,3 and 3, McDonald has managed an arrow-like 7-1. He even raised the possibility of going forward himself.
“Definitely, I’d love to go down forward and take a few marks and kick a few goals,” he said. “I’m not renowned for very straight kicking, but this year I’ve done a bit of work on my kicking, and I am kicking it a bit straighter than in the past.”
If Justin Leppitsch is sent forward from his usual defensive post, McDonald will find himself spending far more time helping out in defence, particularly in lieu of the tall timber in the Tigers’ forward line.
“That’s all part of the game, those tactics of being a ruckman,” he said. “You’ve just got to do whatever the coach directs you to do and certainly on the weekend if I can drop back that’s what I’ll be doing.”
It will certainly be a battle of youth versus experience in the centre square, with McDonald up against wily 33-year-old Brendon Gale.
“Benny Gale is very experienced and very good at dropping back into that hole in front of our goal,” McDonald said. “Then you’ve got Brad Ottens, who has a very good leap in the middle as well, so it’s certainly going to be a tough contest for me and Crackers, and one we have to get on top of.”
Just like 200-gamer Darryl White, McDonald said the importance of the final pushed his milestone right into the background.
“It’s pleasing, but it’s something I haven’t really thought about,” he said. “Obviously I’m thinking about the (possibility of) playing in a grand final more than playing 50 games.”
He was quick to clarify that grand final talk was still very premature.
“I don’t think it’s a problem (at the club), we’ve obviously got to switch on when the time comes to play Richmond, and if we don’t win that game we’re not going to be there, so there’s no point thinking about it unless we beat Richmond.”
A constant question this week has been whether the Lions will be focused after having most of their bye week and weekend off.
“We had the week off, and Saturday and Sunday was to completely forget about football and the football world,” McDonald said. “Come Monday, the whole team got together and we spoke about it, and we said ‘now is the time to switch back on, normal week and normal preparation, and get stuck into Richmond on Saturday night’.
“Just to get a bit of rest in the legs was definitely beneficial for me.”
He added that overcoming the Tigers would not be easy.
“We beat Richmond last time at the Gabba, but if you look before that down at the MCG they’ve really had the wood on us, so they’re a side that we always have good battles against,” he warned.