EDENHOPE footballer Oscar McDonald is one step closer to his dream of playing in the AFL after he was invited to attend the Victorian draft combine in October.
The North Ballarat Rebels player, originally from Horsham District Football Netball League club Edenhope-Apsley, was invited to the combine on Wednesday.
McDonald was one of four Rebels picked to attend the state combine, with a further two attending the national draft combine.
There was a new selection process for combines this year, with each AFL club asked to nominate 50 players they wanted to attend the national and a further 25 for the respective state-based combines.
Players needed to be nominated by at least two clubs to be eligible for state combine selection.
It continues a big year for McDonald, who made his Victorian Football League debut with the North Ballarat Roosters in July.
He said he was happy to attend the state combine despite being overlooked for the national screening.
His older brother Tom, now a key defender for the Melbourne Demons, also attended a state combine. “You’d rather be in the national combine, but I’m pretty excited about the state one,” he said.
“I found out about a week ago that I was going to be in it, and there hadn’t been too much talk about me going there so it’s pretty exciting.
“It’s a stepping stone to a larger goal.”
McDonald said he was not sure exactly what the screening would entail, although drills such as the beep test were standard.
He said he had already been in contact with Tom and would ask him more questions about how the state combine worked in the lead-up.
McDonald said his goal was to play in the AFL like his brother.
“I think I’ve put every right foot forward in terms of preparation, and I did a big pre-season and got myself fit and strong,” he said.
“That has definitely paid off and the state screening and playing VFL have been worth the hard work.
“Hopefully it will keep paying off in the coming weeks.”
McDonald said he was still focused on his Rebels commitments and would put his combine preparation on hold until the season was over.
He said the fact six Rebels were picked to attend either a state or national combine showed how strong the team was. “Our main objective is to keep playing some good team footy and then we’ll worry about individual stuff after the season,” he said.
“Coming from where we were in the first four rounds where we didn’t win a game and everyone wrote us off to where we are now, it shows the strength of the program and the professionalism.
“I think it showed a lot of courage from the group to bounce back to where we are right now.”