Andrew McGrath wants to cement his position as one of Essendon’s men in the middle this season, and he’s willing to shake things up to make it happen.
Having played the majority of his three seasons half-back, all the signs are pointing towards a regular position in the midfield for the 21-year-old.
Behind Dylan Shiel, McGrath attended the most centre bounces for the Bombers during their unbeaten 2020 Marsh Community Series, starring in the same role in round one with 23 disposals (11 contested) and a game-high eight tackles before the season was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
But with possibly a full complement of midfielders available for round two – Dyson Heppell (foot) the only one under an injury cloud – McGrath said he was up for the fight to maintain his spot.
“They (regular midfielders) do like the centre square, but I’m starting to flood my way in there, which is nice. It’s really fun to play alongside those guys, who are classy players and have been for a long time,” McGrath said on Working Through It.
“At the end of the day, it’s all competition at the club. We compete against each other for those spots and inevitably make each other better. Whatever I can do to make them better, if that means trying to take one of their spots in the centre bounce, that’s just better for the team.
“It’s a healthy, competitive environment at the club right now, and I’m trying to do all I can to earn one of those spots.”
McGrath capped off an impressive 2019 with a sensational performance in Essendon’s elimination final defeat to West Coast, registering 30 disposals and the game’s opening goal.
It could prove to be a sign of things to come for 2016’s No.1 draft pick, who said his self-belief was at an all-time high.
“With AFL, it’s a lot about what’s between your ears and what you think about yourself and how confident you are about your body and your abilities, more so than your physical attributes,” he said.
“Personally, I think I’m in the best state I’m in since I got to the club. I kind of say that every pre-season, but you get to the club as a fresh 18-year-old and every season and pre-season you grow and build as a player.
“I feel really comfortable in the position I’ll play this year and really comforted by the form that I had in the early pre-season games and round one that I can withstand that for the rest of the year.”
Missed this week's episode of Working Through It? Click here for the full replay and episode guide.