Luke McDonald (Werribee/Oakleigh Chargers)
Height: 188 cm
Weight: 80 kg
Player comparison: Shannon Hurn
Strengths: Disposal, Strength, Penetration
Luke McDonald is the one player in the 2013 draft crop that has known his fate for quite some time. The son of North Melbourne football chief Donald McDonald will be heading to the Kangaroos at their first pick which will turn out to be about accurate for this incredibly talented player.
At the start of the year McDonald opted to drop out of the AIS Academy to give another young player a chance given he knew he was already going to be drafted and instead chose to play the year with North Melbourne’s affiliate Werribee.
If you believe most North fans, McDonald is set to win the next ten Brownlow’s and lead his club to glory singlehandedly. While this is a gross exaggeration like with most father-son picks, McDonald is definitely going to be something special.
In 2013 McDonald didn’t have the best Under 18s Championships despite picking up a fair few possessions in most matches. He looked like a man who was already drafted and no doubt a number of clubs wouldn’t be fooled by his drop in performance. While North Melbourne would be crossing its fingers and toes that they can snare him with a second round pick, it is almost impossible to suggest a club won’t make a bid given the Kangaroos have played their hand by committing to him.
Without a doubt McDonald is a top ten draft pick between the five to seven mark at this stage so North Melbourne who should have a pick around seven to 10 will be happy with what they are getting.
McDonald is an outside midfielder who can find his own ball and use it incredibly well. While the likes of Aish, Salem and Kelly are ahead of him, McDonald is still in the next bracket of users. When playing for Vic Metro, McDonald was entrusted with the kick-ins. He was somewhat disappointing against South Australia and even drew some Bronx cheers from the crowd when he hit a target after successive turnovers.
That game does not reflect what McDonald brings to the table and his penetrating kick compared to his defensive pressure should hold him in good stead for the future. While there are so many question marks about where Aish, Boyd and Kelly will go, McDonald is the one name you can pencil in now.
McDonald is also very versatile and can play up forward to hit the scoreboard while drifting back to defence in order to cover another player and create plays from the half back line and break the zones. He’s also strong overhead and is able to read the play well which is why McDonald is such a talented proposition.
It will be no surprise that McDonald will play some AFL matches next year given he is effectively already in the system through his time with Werribee this year. If McDonald can continue to improve, a midfield that contains himself as well as Jack Ziebell, Ben Cunnington and Andrew Swallow will be one to watch for the future.
McDonald may not be the second coming of Jesus like most North fans are predicting, but he is a seriously talented player who will make an impact on the big stage and should cement in place in the North Melbourne midfield over the next few years.