Throughout his days playing schoolboy and under 18 football Andrew McGrath was renowned for his calm approach.
That attitude remains in place as he begins his AFL career.
Just four games in, McGrath has sampled victory over a fierce rival in front of almost 80,000 fans, two trips interstate and time on the most dangerous small forwards in the competition.
“I wouldn’t say I feel that calm on the field, especially playing on Eddie [Betts] for a little bit on Saturday night, but I think I have remained calm in situations which I’ve done in my junior footy for a while,” McGrath said.
“It is a big step up but I’m finding it’s just footy at the end of the day – it’s a little bit quicker and the bodies are a little bit bigger but at the end of the day it is just footy.”
McGrath is the round four NAB AFL Rising Star nominee after he collected 28 possessions (85 per cent efficiency) and laid four tackles against Adelaide on Saturday night.
Now he’s in line to make his first ANZAC Day appearance in front of a packed MCG.
“I just can’t wait to be a part of it – all of the boys say how amazing the feeling is listening to The Last Post and being out there with 100,000 people silent and then erupting, so I just can’t wait for that feeling and to be a part of it with all of the Essendon boys,” McGrath said.
“I’ve never actually been to one but I’ve watched it on TV and it’s just an electric atmosphere at the game.
“I’m just going to approach it like another game – there is going to be a few more people there but I think it is going to be very similar to our round one clash with Hawthorn.
“It’s going to be big and we’re ready for it I think.”
McGrath expects the team to improve gradually throughout the season as the cohesion grows.
“Our form hasn’t been ideal, we’re a little bit inconsistent at the moment but we’re heading in the right direction,” he said.
“We’re two and two which isn’t a disaster, we’ve played some really good footy in patches and as the season progresses we’ll become more consistent and be a stronger side.”