READY to go.
In stark contrast to this time last year, that’s the word on Harry McKay ahead of the return of pre-season.
After having his preparation 12 months ago halted due to a groin injury, McKay will be back for the start of the summer training block at Ikon Park.
As a fifth-year Blue, McKay isn’t due back for training until the new year: Carlton’s first-to-fourth-year players will return this coming Monday.
Assistant coach Cameron Bruce said he was well and truly optimistic about what McKay could achieve with a full pre-season under his belt.
“We probably need to contain the excitement we have with Harry,” Bruce said.
“He’s still got so much to learn about the tall forward craft, which is probably frightening given what he can do in games and what we saw.
“He’s got a great appetite to get better. He’s invested in getting better really quickly and hopefully he does that: it’ll be exciting for us, not only as a forward group but as a footy club.”
McKay hit his straps late in the 2020 campaign after a heavily interrupted preparation, barely completing any training last summer due to that groin injury. He also missed three games in the season with a knee complaint.
However, he came back to play the last seven games of the season uninterrupted. In the final month of the year, he ranked No.1 in the competition for contested marks and No.2 for goals kicked.
Bruce said McKay was the beneficiary of continuity on the training track, and a full pre-season opens up a number of avenues for the key forward.
“He was able to put games together and weeks of training together. It wasn’t the case of playing, recover all week and then play again: he actually got some quality in those training weeks,” he said.
“He’s still ‘immature’ as a player, so the importance of doing that - being out on the training track, being able to play with these guys, building an understanding and a connection - certainly helped.
“Ideally, hopefully it happens from pre-season where he’s building those relationships at training so then he can get into games. He benefitted enormously from his training and playing in that back half of the year.”
Bruce spoke to Carlton Media as part of a pre-season preview series ahead of next week’s return to training. For the full interview, watch the video in the player below.