How Melbourne forward Tom McDonald went from AFL reject to grand-finalist
Twelve months ago, with doors slammed in his face by AFL clubs after an unfavourable exit interview from Melbourne, Tom McDonald concedes he thought he was done.
But this weekend the star Demon forward could, along with another big man almost tossed on the AFL scrap heap at the end of 2020, be wearing a premiership medallion.
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McDonald and the Demons agreed to part ways at the end of last season despite the forward still having a year to run on his contract.
It was a stunning fall from grace for McDonald, who had been hot property just two seasons earlier when he kicked 53 goals as Melbourne surged to the preliminary final.
But as he prepares for the biggest game of his career, the 29-year-old has revealed just how little interest there was and why he pledged to turn his own fortunes around.
“Yeah (I was) looking elsewhere, no one wanted me,” said McDonald, who has kicked 31 goals this season.
“To be in that position was disappointing. You think, ‘Geez, could this be it after this year?’
“If I cut my salary 90 per cent, I might have got a gig somewhere, but I wouldn‘t be able to live on that wage at the moment.
“A couple of years before that I would have been welcomed at a lot of other clubs, but doors get closed pretty quick.
“I was lucky that I was still contracted to Melbourne, so I knew I could at least come back and try to prove myself.”
McDonald committed to doing everything he could to be the player he was in 2018, with his strong form this season earning him a two-year contract extension.
“I decided when I went for my exit interview (with Demons senior coach Simon Goodwin) that I was going to be really honest about where I was at, not trying to make an excuse or sugar coat it,” he said.
“That was the best thing for both of us – for him to see that I was serious about getting back, and to see that he could still work with me.”
He’s part a one-two big man punch up forward for the Demons, alongside former Kangaroos spearhead Ben Brown who, like McDonald, wasn’t feeling a lot of love from his former club at the end of last season.
Together though, these two players, who were nearly cast aside by the AFL machine, could have the last laugh.
“North Melbourne essentially pushed him out the door as well, and we thought Melbourne were going to be pretty poor; we didn‘t think we were going to be at this level,” McDonald said.
“And to both be here playing in a grand final side, regardless if we win and lose, I think we are both winning on a personal level there.”
Originally published as How Melbourne forward Tom McDonald went from AFL reject to grand-finalist
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