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Dons set the bar high

Natalie MacGregor  November 14, 2017 9:00 AM

BTV: Andrew McGrath Media Conference - Nov 13 Andrew McGrath spoke to the media at the Club on the first day of pre-season training.

Essendon young gun Andy McGrath is confident the Bombers will use the 2017 finals loss as motivation over the pre-season.

The 19 year old returned to training this morning with first to fourth year players ahead of a training camp in the Northern Territory.

“We haven’t spoken about it formally but the feeling around the group is that we want to go better than we did last year,” McGrath said.

“We know what it takes now to play finals footy. It was a disappointing loss at the end of last season but we got a taste of it and our young players got a feel of how hard it is and how hard we need to train - I think that will come through in our pre-season.

“We know how close we are but then again how far we are away from going deep into the finals, and that’s our goal for the year.

“We learnt so much from our final last season and we will take that through pre-season and use that whenever things get hard, we will bring it back to how disciplined Sydney were and know that is the standard we have to meet.

“It was nice coming into the Club this morning with a clean slate, new goals, new expectations and bit of surprise with what we can bring this year.

“With the trades that Adrian and the recruiting team did, it’s an exciting group and I think we can surprise a lot of people this year.

“It’s obviously a really competitive list and with the trades we have brought in and the young players that are emerging, it’s going to be really competitive for spots which is what we want.”

In his first year at the Club, McGrath was awarded the NAB AFL Rising Star medal, Essendon’s Best First Year Player, the Players Association Best First Year Player and was named in the 22under22 squad.

After a promising first year with the Bombers, McGrath is working towards constant improvement for his 2018 season and beyond.

“The way I look at it is, you get better and better every year you go until you’re a little bit older so I’m fitter and stronger than I was last year. Hopefully I can have a lot more impact than I did in my first year,” McGrath said.

The younger player will leave for training camp tonight which involves trips to Darwin, Maningrida, Katherine Gorge and the Tiwi Islands.

“We haven’t been given complete details but it will be a nice experience to get away with the younger guys, get back into train, form a mini leadership group amongst the players and hopefully bring that into the season,” McGrath said.

“We will also get to visit our Next Generation Academies and enjoy a good cultural experience.

“The last time they did this trip, it was a pretty strenuous few training sessions. We are hiking around Katherine Gorge which will be nice but I’m sure there is going to be some hard work involved with that too.”