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No limits for Harry

Nick Bowen  December 31, 2015 8:53 AM

First-year players camp - Tasmania Get an inside look at the first-year players camp to Tasmania last weekend.

Harry McKay has fully embraced Carlton's 2016 mindset that its youngsters not put any limits on what they can achieve.

McKay was the No.10 pick in October's NAB AFL Draft, where the rebuilding Blues invested heavily in their future spine.
Alongside the 200cm forward from Gippsland Power, Carlton also took key defender Jacob Weitering (No.1) and key forwards Charlie Curnow (No.12) and Jack Silvagni (No.53).

When McKay spoke to AFL.com.au at Carlton's pre-Christmas training camp on the Gold Coast, he readily conceded he was "pretty raw" and had to improve his game "at every level".

But as one of the youngest players taken at the 2015 draft – he turned 18 on Christmas Eve – McKay has enormous scope for improvement.

Realistically, in his case, "the little sprouts of improvement" that new Carlton coach Brendon Bolton wants to see from his youngsters in 2016 will come in the VFL with the Northern Blues.

Young key position players typically take time to develop and Carlton won't rush McKay's progression from elite junior to AFL player.

McKay, himself, is not setting any individual goals for 2016. His focus is simply to improve at least one aspect of his game in every remaining pre-season training session.


Harry McKay hits the track. (Photo: AFL Media)

But once the 2016 season starts, McKay will be aiming high.

"Speaking with the coaches and the guys, we don't want to put a roof on my expectations and the team's expectations next season," McKay said.

"We want to go in with an open mind. Anything can happen when it comes to the season, so there's no point putting a roof on what could happen.

"We're really open-minded, and I'm really open-minded, about what could go on next year."

McKay said his transition into life as an AFL footballer had been "a bit of a whirlwind" since he was drafted on November 24 at the Adelaide Convention Centre.

But in a 10-minute interview the personable 18-year-old repeatedly said he was loving every aspect of his new club and his first AFL pre-season.

As a TAC Cup player, McKay had one main training session a week during the season with Gippsland Power, so being at Carlton "pretty much every day of the week from 7am to 6pm" has been an adjustment.

Get to know Harry McKay

However, the biggest thing that has struck McKay about life at an AFL club is how full-on every training session is.

"You have to concentrate the whole time. There is a great vibe around the place and everyone wants to be making sure we're doing the right things and are switched on the whole time," McKay says.

"That's probably the main thing, you've got to make sure you're 'on' the whole time, and thinking and working.

"I'm loving it, though."


Harry McKay recovers in the Gold Coast surf during the Blues' pre-season camp. (Photo: AFL Media)

McKay has adjusted well to life in Melbourne after moving away from his family home in Warragul for the first time.

The forward lived with Carlton defender Simon White before the Christmas break, but will move in with a host family once the Blues resume training on January 4.

McKay's twin brother Ben has also had to move out of home after being taken by the Blues' crosstown rival North Melbourne at pick No.21 in the national draft.

Despite the close proximity of Ikon Park to the Roos' Arden Street headquarters, McKay said he and Ben never seriously considered living together in Melbourne.

"To be honest, we're pretty happy to be separated. We've been with each other for the last 18 years or so, so it's nice to get a bit of separation from him," McKay said with a laugh.

"But we still keep in contact and he's doing all right, so it's worked out perfectly.

"We wanted to stay in Victoria, obviously, and ideally we wanted to go to separate clubs.

"And to get to two really good clubs like Carlton and North Melbourne, I couldn't be happier with how it's worked out."