Draft Watch: Sandringham’s Andrew McGrath

Sandringham Dragons midfielder/defender Andrew McGrath couldn’t have done much more to push his case as the potential no.1 pick in the 2016 NAB AFL Draft.

The 179cm East Brighton product was a key part of Sandringham’s TAC Cup premiership team, averaging 32 disposals, five marks and five tackles per game in 10 matches and being awarded the TAC Medal for the best player on the ground in the Grand Final as well as earning selection in the TAC Cup Team of the Year back line.

McGrath also played a pivotal role in Vic Metro’s successful NAB AFL U18 Championships campaign. He co-captained the undefeated Metro team (alongside Eastern’s Jordan Gallucci) and averaged 24 disposals per game across four matches to win Metro’s MVP Award (jointly with Eastern’s Dylan Clarke) and a spot in defence in the U18 All Australian team.

taccup.com.au talked to McGrath at the recent NAB AFL Draft Combine, where he recorded the best running vertical jump (left foot) and the second-best time in the repeat sprint test, while also finishing in the top 10 of the agility test and running vertical jump (right foot).

How have you been selling yourself as a footballer to AFL clubs in interviews at the Combine?

“I always link back to my personality because I think your personality reflects how you play football. I see myself as a pretty committed and driven person and the way I play football is pretty similar. Combining that with a bit of flair and speed is the way I play my football.”

What is the strangest question you’ve been asked by an AFL club?

“Spelling certain words backwards and subtracting in sevens from random numbers are probably the weirdest ones.”

What parts of your game do you know you’d need to work on if you were drafted?

“Consistency with my kick is something I’ve worked pretty hard on over the off-season, and it’s improved a lot since then but it’s still something that constantly needs improving.”

Which AFL players do you particularly like to watch and model your game on?

“(Western Bulldogs’) Jason Johannisen is probably my favourite player in the AFL right now. We play sort of similar roles and just the way he’s emerged this year has been outstanding for the smaller blokes. We’re similar heights and similar builds, so he’s probably someone I idolise.”

How do you think your year turned out relative to your pre-season expectations?

“I guess I have exceeded the expectations that I put on myself and people around me put on me. Proving some people wrong is also bitter-sweet, I guess. A lot of people didn’t think I was up in the top group of blokes in the draft this year and there was always a goal to get in that group. I worked pretty hard to try and match it with some of the best players and see how they went about it. Learning from being just below some of those blokes has really helped me.”

What do you think was your best performance of the year individually?

“I think the (U18 Championships) game against Vic Country when I had to move back onto a red-hot Benny Ainsworth (from Gippsland Power, who had kicked three goals in the third quarter). That was probably my best performance to date, limiting his impact and then in turn helping us win the game (with 23 disposals of his own).”

Talk about why you think your teammates at the Combine are so highly rated.

- Hamish Brayshaw: “He’s a competitive beast. He’s had a tough run with injuries but he always finds a way to get out on the park and lead the boys. He’s probably the loudest bloke at the Combine but he’s really personable. We all love Hamish.”
- Oliver Florent: “He’s had a very difficult year with some family circumstances, but I think he’s learnt a lot and he’s really matured as a player and a person. I’m not surprised at all that he’s rising up the draft order.”
- Jack Scrimshaw: “I’d say he’s the most versatile player in the draft. He can probably play any position on the ground, even in the ruck if he needed to. He’s still a bit wiry but he’s really agile. He’s got probably one of the best sidesteps I’ve seen.”
- Will Setterfield: “Just the way he conducts himself, you wouldn’t think he’s as good a player as he is; he’s so humble about his ability. His contested work is unbelievable at the size he is (190cm).”
- Tim Taranto: “He’s that perfect size (186cm), an inside midfielder who can go forward and kick goals. He’s just classy in traffic and can finish his work off.”

If you weren’t possibly going to become a full-time footballer, what would you be doing in life in the next few years?

“I’d probably be going to uni next year. I’ve put in commerce and commerce/arts as my preferences.”

Who’s your tip for the no.1 NAB AFL Draft pick?

“I’d pick (North Ballarat’s) Hugh McCluggage. He’s a class act on and off the field.”



Other Draft Watch profiles:

Joseph Atley - Bendigo Pioneers

Josh Begley - Eastern Ranges

Josh Battle - Dandenong Stingrays

Daniel Venables - Western Jets

Alex Witherden - Geelong Falcons

Patrick Kerr - Oakleigh Chargers

Ben Ainsworth - Gippsland Power

Todd Marshall - Murray Bushrangers 

Patrick Lipinski - Northern Knights 

Hugh McCluggage - North Ballarat Rebels 

Jack Maibaum - Eastern Ranges 

Kobe Mutch - Bendigo Pioneers 

Judah Dundon - Western Jets

Mitch McCarthy - Dandenong Stingrays 

Jordan Ridley - Oakleigh Chargers

Sean Darcy - Geelong Falcons


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