Saturday 20 January 2018

'He's got some real talent' - Aussie Rules star on Conor McKenna's rise in the AFL and his peculiar diet

Conor McKenna of the Bombers looks on during the round seven AFL match between the Fremantle Dockers and the Essendon Bombers at Domain Stadium on May 7, 2017 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)
Conor McKenna of the Bombers looks on during the round seven AFL match between the Fremantle Dockers and the Essendon Bombers at Domain Stadium on May 7, 2017 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

Jack O'Toole

Former Essendon captain Jobe Watson has said that former Tyrone minors star Conor McKenna has got some 'real talent' in Aussie Rules and that the 21-year-old reads the game very well for a player that is only in his second season in the AFL.

McKenna, who was drafted in the fourth round of the 2014 AFL Rookie Draft after playing a starring role in Tyrone's run to the 2012 All-Ireland Minor Football Championship quarter-final, enjoyed his best game in the AFL last weekend as Essendon prevailed over Port Adelaide with a 70-point win at the Etihad Stadium in Melbourne.

McKenna notched a career high 22 disposals in the landslide win and also racked up six inside-50's ( passing the ball inside the 50m arc, a statistic frequently used to evaluate the effectiveness of midfield players) as the Bombers bounced back from their loss the previous weekend to the Greater Western Sydney Giants.

Watson, who was originally awarded the 2012 Brownlow medal before being stripped of the medal for his involvement in the club's supplements saga in 2012, said that McKenna is a 'beautifully balanced' player and that he is improving with every game he plays.

"He's got some real talent and like all Irish guys they kick the ball so well," Watson told Melbourne radio station 3AW on Saturday.

"They're not afraid to back themselves and he's a beautifully balanced player. The more he plays the better he's going to get and we're really fortunate that the recruiting staff found him, and that the coaches are starting to develop him, and credit to him.

"He sees the game so well for a guy that hasn't played a hell of a lot of footy. Not only can he run at such high speed but he actually has composure at that speed.

"That's a rare thing to have, a guy who can really break the lines and be running at full pace, but then still find targets long or short, and he's just going to get better and better the more games he plays."

Watson has been mightily impressed by what he's seen from McKenna on the field, but away from the pitch he admits that he still has great difficulty understanding what the Eglish native is trying to say, with his affinity for mayonnaise particularly puzzling to the two-time All-Australian.

"I still can't understand anything he says," Watson joked.

"He actually lived with me for the first three months when he arrived and all he wanted to eat was mayonnaise.

"I don't know what goes on in the Irish diet but every meal he would just go 'Have you got some mayonnaise? Have you got some mayonnaise? I need some mayonnaise' That's all I know."

McKenna has played eight times so far this season for Essendon with his contract with the Bombers set to expire at the end of the 2017 season.

Online Editors

Promoted Links

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport